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^Translates &i> 







Preface, ....... 

Introduction, ...... 

§ 1. Account of Arnobius given by Jerome, . 

§ 2. Facts derived from Arnobius himself, 

§ 3. Result, ...... 

§ 4. His Work : its Style and Character, 
§ 5. Knowledge of Scriptures, and References to other Writ 
ings, ....... 

§ 6. MS. and Editions of the Seven Books adversus Gentes, 
§ 7. Title, 









i • 


Index of 



Index of 















HE translation of Arnoblus was begun in the 
hope that it would be possible to adhere through- 
out to the text of Orelli, and that very little 
attention to the various readings would be found neces- 
sary. This was, however, found to be impossible, not 
merely because Hildebrand's collation of the Paris MS. 
showed how frequently liberties had been taken with the 
text, but on account of the corrupt state of the text itself. 

It has therefore been thought advisable to lay before the 
reader a close translation founded on the MS., so far as 
known. A conjectural reading has in no case been adopted 
without notice. 

Throughout the "Work use has been made of four editions, 
— Oehler's, Orelli's, Hildebrand's, and that of Leyden ; 
other editions being consulted only for special reasons. 

It is to be regretted that our knowledge of the single 
MS. of Arnobius is still incomplete ; but it is hoped that 
this will soon be remedied, by the publication of a revised 
text, based upon a fresh collation of the MS., with a com- 
plete apparatus and a carefully digested body of notes. 


RNOBIUS has been most unjustly neglected 
in modern times; but some excuse for this 
may be found in the fact that even less 
attention seems to have been paid to him in 
the ages immediately succeeding his own. We find no men- 
tion of him in any author except Jerome ; and even Jerome 
has left only a few lines about him, which conve^y very little 

In his list of ecclesiastical writers he says, 1 "During the 
reign of Diocletian, Arnobius taught rhetoric with the great- 
est success, at Sicca, in Africa, and wrote against the heathen 
the books extant ;" and again speaks of this work more par- 
ticularly when he says, 2 " Arnobius published seven books 
against the heathen." In his Chronicon, however, he writes 
under the year 2342 (i.e. a.d. 326), " Arnobius is considered 
a distinguished rhetorician in Africa, who, while engaged at 
Sicca in teaching young men rhetoric, was led by visions to 
the faith ; and not being received by the bishop as hitherto 
a persistent enemy to Christ, composed very excellent books 
against his former belief." It must at once be seen that there 
is here a mistake, for Arnobius is put some twenty-three 
years later than in the former passage. Jerome himself 
shows us that the former date is the one he meant, for else- 
where 3 he speaks of Lactantius as the disciple of Arnobius. 
Lactantius, in extreme old age, 4 was appointed tutor of Con- 

1 Cat. Script. Eccl. lxxix. f. 121, Bened. ed. torn. iv. 

2 Ep. lxxxiii. f. 656. 

3 Cat. Script. Eccl. lxxx. f. 121, ep. lxxxiii. 

4 Cat. Script. Eccl. lxxx. 


stan tine's son Crispus; and this, we are told in the Chronicoji, 1 
was in the year 317. No one will suppose that if the dis- 
ciple was a very old man in 317, his master could have been 
in his prime in 326. It is certain, therefore, that this date 
is not correct ; and it seems very probable that Oehler's con- 
jecture is true, who supposes that Jerome accidentally trans- 
posed his words from the year 303 to the place where we 
find them, misled by noticing the vicenalia of Constantine 
when he was looking for those of Diocletian. 

It is with some difficulty that we can believe that Arnobius 
was led to embrace Christianity by dreams, as he speaks of 
these with little respect as " vain," — which he could hardly 
have done if by them the whole course of his life had been 
changed ; but in "our utter ignorance we cannot say that this 
may not have been to some extent the case. The further 
statement, that his apology for Christianity was submitted 
as a proof of his sincerity to the bishop of Sicca, is even less 
credible, — for these two reasons, that it is evidently the fruit 
not of a few weeks' but of protracted labour, and that it is 
hardly likely that any bishop would have allowed some parts 
of it to pass into circulation. It is just possible that the first 
or third books may have been so presented ; but it is not 
credible that any pledge would be required of a man seek- 
ing to cast in his lot with the persecuted and terrified Church 
referred to in the fourth. 

§ 2. If we learn but little from external sources as to the 
life of Arnobius, we are not more fortunate when we turn 
to his own writings. One or two facts, however, are made 
clear ; and these are of some importance. " But lately," he 
says, u O blindness, I worshipped images just brought from 
the furnaces, cods made on anvils and forced with hammers : 
now, led by so great a teacher into the ways of truth, I know 
what all these things are." 2 We have thus his own assur- 
ance of his conversion from heathenism. He speaks of him- 
self, however, as actually a Christian, — not as a waverer, not 
as one purposing to forsake the ancient superstitions and 
1 Anno 2333. 2 i. 39, p. 31. 


embrace the new religion, but as a firm believer, whose 
faith is already established, and whose side has been taken 
and stedfastly maintained. In a word, he refers to himself 
as once lost in error, but now a true Christian. 

Again, in different passages he marks pretty accurately 
the time or times at which he wrote. Thus, in the first 
book 1 he speaks of about three hundred years as the time 
during which Christianity had existed ; and in the second, 2 
of a thousand and fifty, or not many less, having elapsed 
since the foundation of Rome. There has been much dis- 
cussion as to what era is here referred to ; and it has been 
pretty generally assumed that the Fabian must be intended, 
— in which case 303 would be the year meant. If it is ob- 
served, however, that Arnobius shows an intimate acquaint- 
ance with Varro, and great admiration for him, it will pro- 
bably be admitted that it is most likely that the Varronian, 
or common, era was adopted by him ; and in this case the 
year referred to will be 297 a.d. This coincides sufficiently 
with the passage in the first book, and is in harmony with 
the idea which is there predominant, — the thought, that is, 
of the accusation so frequently on the lips of the heathen, 
that Christianity was the cause of the many and terrible 
afflictions with which the empire was visited. These accusa- 
tions, ever becoming more bitter and threatening, would 
naturally be observed with care and attention by thoughtful 
Christians towards the close of the third century ; and 
accordingly we find that the words with which Arnobius 
begins his apology, express the feeling of awakening anxiety 
with which he viewed the growth of this fear and hatred 
in the minds of the heathen. He declares, in effect, that 
one great object — indeed the main object — which he had 
proposed to himself, was to show that it was not because of 
the Christians that fresh evils and terrible calamities were 
continually assailing the state. And it must be remembered 
that we cannot refer such a proposal to a later period than 
that assigned. It would certainly not have occurred to a 
Christian in the midst of persecution, with death overhang- 
1 i. 13, p. 13. 2 ij. 71? p# Uh 


ing him, and danger on every side, to come forward and 
attempt calmly to show the heathen that there was no reason 
for their complaints against the Christians. In the later 
books there is a change in tone, upon which we cannot 
now dwell, although it is marked. In one passage he asks 
indignantly, 1 " Why should our writings be given to the 
flames, our meetings be cruelly broken up, in which prayer is 
offered to the supreme God, peace and pardon are asked for 
all in authority, for soldiers, kings, friends, enemies ? " In 
the calm tranquillity of the last half of the third century 
these words could hardly have been written, but they are a 
striking testimony to the terms of the imperial edict issued 
in the year 303 a.d. So, too, the expression of anger and 
disgust at the anti-pagan character of some of Cicero's 
works, noticed in Hi- 7, belongs to the incipient stages of 

Nor must it be supposed that the whole work may be 
referred to the era which ensued after the abdication of 
Diocletian, in 305. From this time an apology for Chris- 
tianity with such a design would have been an anachronism, 
for it was no longer necessary to disarm the fears of the 
heathen by showing that the gods could not be enraged at 
the Christians. It has further to be noticed, that although 
it is perfectly clear that Arnobius spent much time on his 
apology, it has never been thoroughly revised, and does not 
seem to have been ever finished. 2 

We surely have in all this sufficient reason to assign the 
composition of these books adversus Gentes to the end of the 
third and beginning of the fourth centuries. Beyond this we 
cannot go, for we have no data from which to derive further 

§ 3. We have seen that the facts transmitted to us are 
very few and scanty indeed ; but, few as they are, they sug- 
gest an interesting picture. Arnobius comes before us in 
Sicca ; we are made spectators of two scenes of his life there, 
and the rest — the beginning and the end — are shrouded in 
1 iv. 36. p. 218. 2 Cf. pp. 347, n. 3, and 3G4, n. 3. 


darkness. Sicca Veneria was an important town, lying on 
the Numidian border, to the south-west of Carthage. As its 
name signifies, it was a seat of that vile worship of the 
goddess of lust, which was dear to the Phoenician race. The 
same cultus was found there which disgraced Corinth ; and 
in the temple of the goddess the maidens of the town were 
wont to procure for themselves, by the sacrifice of their 
chastity, the dowries which the poverty of their parents 
could not provide. 

In the midst of traditions of such bestial foulness Arno- 
bius found himself, — whether as a native, or as one who had 
been led to settle there. He has told us himself how true 
an idolater he was, how thoroughly he complied with the 
ceremonial demands of superstition ; but the frequency and 
the vehemence of language with which his abhorrence of the 
sensuality of heathenism is expressed, tell us as plainly that 
practices so horrible had much to do in preparing his mind 
to receive another faith. 

In strong contrast to the filthy indulgences with which 
paganism gratified its adherents, must have appeared the 
strict purity of life which was enjoined by Christianity and 
aimed at by its followers ; and perhaps it was in such a place 
as Sicca that considerations of this nature would have most 
influence. There, too, the story of Cyprian's martyrdom 
must have been well known, — may indeed have been told in 
the nursery of the young Arnobius, — and many traditions 
must have been handed down about the persistency with 
which those of the new religion had held fast their faith, in 
spite of exile, torture, and death. However distorted such 
tales might be, there would always remain in them the evi- 
dence of so exalted nobility of spirit, that every disclosure 
of the meanness and baseness of the old superstition must 
have induced an uneasy feeling as to whether that could be 
impiety which ennobled men, — that piety which degraded 
them lower than the brutes. 

For some time all went well with Arnobius. He was not 
too pure for the world, and his learning and eloquence won 
him fame and success in his profession. But in some way, 



we know not how, a higher learning was communicated to 
him, and the admired rhetorician became first a suspected, 
then a persecuted Christian. He has left us in no doubt as 
to the reason of the change. Upon his darkness, he says, 
there shone out a heavenly light, a great teacher appeared to 
him and pointed out the way of truth ; and he who had been 
an earnest worshipper of images, of stones, of unknown gods, 
was now as earnest, as zealous in his service of the true God. 
Of the trials which he must have endured we know nothing. 
A terrible persecution swept over the world, and many a 
Christian perished in it. Such a man as Arnobius must 
have been among the first to be assailed, but we hear of him 
no more. With his learning and talents he could not have 
failed to make himself a name in the church, or outside its 
pale, if he had lived. The conclusion seems inevitable, that 
he was one of the victims of that last fiery trial to which 
Christians under the Roman empire were exposed. 

§ 4. The vast range of learning shown in this apology has 
been admitted on all sides. Even Jerome says that it should 
at times be read on account of the learning displayed in it. 1 
In another passage Jerome says, 2 " Arnobius is unequal and 
prolix, confused from want of arrangement." This may be 
admitted to a certain extent ; but although such defects are 
to be found in his work, they are certainly not character- 
istic of Arnobius. So, too, many passages may be found 
strangely involved and mystical, and it is at times hard to 
understand what is really meant. Solecisms and barbarisms 
are also met with, as Nourry has objected, so that it cannot 
be said that Arnobius writes pure Latin. Still we must not 
be misled into supposing that by enumerating these defects 
we have a fair idea of his style. 

If we remember that no man can wholly escape the influ- 
ences of his age, and that Arnobius was so warm an admirer 
of Yarro and Lucretius that he imitated their style and 
adopted their vocabulary, we shall be able to understand in 
what way he may be fairly spoken of as a good writer, 
1 Ep. lxii. ad Tranquill. 2 Ep. xlix. ad Paulinum. 


although not free from defects. His style is, in point of 
fact, clear and lucid, rising at times into genuine eloquence ; 
and its obscurity and harshness are generally caused by an 
attempt to express a vague and indefinite idea. Indeed 
very considerable power of expression is manifested in the 
philosophical reasonings of the second book, the keen satire 
of the fourth and fifth, and the vigorous argument of the 
sixth and seventh. 

Jerome's last stricture is scarcely applicable. Arnobius 
wrote adversus Gentes ; he addressed himself to meet the 
taunts and accusations of the heathen, and in so doing he 
retorts upon them the charges which they preferred against 
the Christians. His work must therefore be criticised from 
this standpoint, not as a systematic exposition or vindication 
of Christianity. Christianity is indeed defended, bat it is 
by attacking heathenism. We must consider, also, that evi- 
dently the work was not revised as a whole, and that, the last 
book would have been considerably altered had Arnobius 
lived or found opportunity to correct it. 1 If we remember 
these things, we shall find little to object to in the arrange- 

After making all deductions, it may be said fairly that in 
Arnobius the African church found no unfitting champion. 
Living amidst impurity and corruption, and seeing on every 
side the effects of a superstitious and sensual faith, he stands 
forward to proclaim that man has a nobler ideal set before 
him than the worship of the foul imaginations of his de- 
praved fancy, to call his fellows to a purer life, and to point 
out that the Leader who claims that men should follow Him 
is both worthy and able to guide. This he does with enthu- 
siasm, vigour, and effect ; and in doing this he accomplishes 
his end. 

§ 5. Various opinions have been entertained as to the posi- 
tion which Arnobius occupied with regard to the Bible. We 
cannot here enter into a discussion of these, and shall merely 
present a brief statement of facts. 
1 Cf. pp. 347, 


It is evident that with regard to the Jews and the Old 
Testament Arnobius was in a state of perfect ignorance ; for 
he confounds the Sadducees with the Pharisees, 1 makes no 
allusion to the history of the Israelites, and shows that he 
was not acquainted with their forms of sacrifice. - 

He was evidently w T ell acquainted with the life of Christ 
and the history of the church, and alludes at times to well- 
known Christian sayings ; but how far in so doing he 
quotes the Gospels and Epistles, is not easily determined. 
Thus it has been supposed, and with some probability, that 
in referring to the miracles of Christ he must allude to the 
Gospels as recording them. But it must be observed that he 
ascribes to Christ a miracle of which the New Testament 
makes no mention, — of being understood by men of different 
nations, as though He spoke in several languages at the same 
moment. 3 So, too, his account 4 of the passion differs from 
that of the New Testament. On the other hand, we find 
that he speaks of Christ as having taught men " not to 
return evil for evil," 5 as u the way of salvation, the door of 
life, by whom alone there is access to the light," ° and as 
having been seen by u countless numbers of men " after His 
resurrection. 7 Still further, he makes frequent references 
to accounts of Christ written by the apostles and handed 
down to their followers, 8 and asks why their writings should 
be burned. 9 In one place, 10 also, he asks, " Have the well- 
known words never rung in your ears, that the wisdom of 
man is foolishness with God?" where the reference seems to 
be very distinct ; u but he nowhere says that he is quoting, or 
mentions any books. 

This is, however, less remarkable when we take into 
account his mode of dealing with Clemens Alexandrinus and 

1 P. 158, n. 2. 3 Cf. B. vii., on sacrifices generally. 

3 P. 37, n. 2. 4 P. 45, n. 1. 

5 P. 9, n. 1. e P> 135j n< G< 

7 P. 37 ; cf. 1 Cor. xv. G. 

8 i. 55, p. 45 ; 56, p. 46 ; 58, p. 47 ; 59, p. 48. 

9 iv. 36, p. 218. 10 ii. 6, p. 68, n. 5. 
11 Cf. 1 Cor. iii. 19. 

INTliOD UCT10N. xvii 

Cicero. The fourth, fifth, and sixth books are based on these 
two authors, and from Clement, in particular, whole sentences 
are taken unchanged. Yet the only reference made to either 
is the very general allusion in the third and fourth books. 1 

On the other hand, he quotes frequently and refers dis- 
tinctly to many authors, and is especially careful to show 
that he has good authority for his statements, as will be seen 
by observing the number of books to which he refers on the 
mysteries and temples. If we bear this in mind, the prin- 
ciple which guided him seems to have been, that when he 
has occasion to quote an author once or twice, he does so 
by name, but that he takes it for granted that every one 
knows what are the great sources of information, and that 
it is therefore unnecessary to specify in each case what is 
the particular authority. 

There are many interesting questions connected with this 
subject, but these we must for the present leave untouched. 

§ 6. No other works by Arnobius have been preserved, 
and only two MSS. are known to exist. Of these, the one 
in Brussels is merely a transcript of that preserved in the 
public library at Paris, on which all editions have been 
based. This is a MS. of the ninth or tenth century, and 
contains the Octavius of Minucius Felix immediately after 
the seventh book adversus Gentes, in consequence of which 
that treatise was at first printed as the eighth book of 
Arnobius. Although it has been collated several times, we 
are still in doubt as to its true readings, — Hildebrand, who 
last examined it, having done so with too little care. 

The first 2 edition was printed at Rome in 1542, and 
was followed by that of Gelenius, 3 in which much was 
done for the emendation of the text ; but arbitrary con- 
jectures were too frequently admitted. Next in order 
follow those of Canterus, 4 who did especial service by 

1 Pp. 154 and 195, n. 3. 

2 Arnobii Disputationum adversus Gentes, libri octo, nunc primum in 
lucem editi Romse, apud Franc. Priscianum Florentinum. 

3 Basilcse 1546. 4 Antverpise 1582. ' 


pointing out what use Arnobius has made of Clement, 
Ursinus, 1 Elmenhorst, 2 Stewechius, 3 Heraldus, 4 and the 
Ley den 5 variorum edition, based on a recension of the text 
by Salmasius. The later editions are those of Oberthiir, 7 
whose text is adopted by Orelli, 8 Hildebrand, 9 and Oehler. 10 
Oberthiir's edition is of little importance, and that of Orelli 
is valuable solely as a collection of notes gathered from many 
sources into a crude and undigested mass. Hildebrand 
seems to have taken too little pains with his work ; and 
Oehler, whose critical sagacity and industry might have 
given us a most satisfactory edition, was unfortunately ham- 
pered by want of space. 

No edition of Arnobius has been published in England ; 
and the one Englishman who has taken any pains with this 
author seems to be John Jones, who, under the pseudonym 
of Leander de St. Martino, prepared summaries, which 
were added to a reprint of Stewechius at Douay 1634. As 
this edition has not come into our hands, we are unable to 
speak of it more particularly. 

§ 7. It will be observed that adversus Gentes is the title of 
this work in all editions except those of Hildebrand and 
Oehler, in which it is adversus Nationes. The difference is 
very slight, but it may be well to mention that neither can 
be said with certainty to be correct. The first is the form 
used by Jerome in two passages of his writings -, 11 and as he 

1 Romse 1583. This is the second Roman ed., and restores the 
Octavius to Minucius Felix. 

2 Hanovise 1603; dedicated to Joseph Scaliger. ?J Ant werpiae 1601. 

4 Paris 1605. This edition, which is of great value, and shows great 
learning and ability, was completed in two months, as Heraldus him- 
self tells us. 

5 Lugduni Batavorum 1651, containing the notes of Canterus, 
Elmenhorst, Stewechius, and Heraldus. 

G Salmasius purposed writing commentaries for this edition, but died 
without doing more than beginning them. 

7 Wirceburgi 1783, 8vo, preceded by a rambling introductory epistle. 

8 Lipsise 1816-17, 8vo. 9 Halis Saxonum 184-4, 8vo. 
]0 Lipsiae 1816, 8vo. n Cf. § 1, notes 1 and 2. 


must have seen earlier mss. than that now extant, he is 
supposed to give the title which he found in them. In 
the Paris MS., however, at the end of the second book, the 
subscription is, u The second book of Arnobius adversus 
Nationes ends ;" and it has been argued that, as the copyist 
would hardly have gone so far astray, while it is quite pos- 
sible that Jerome did not attempt to do more than indicate 
generally the purpose of the book without quoting its title- 
page, this must be the true title. The first page of the 
existing MS. is torn away, and the question remains there- 
fore undecided : fortunately its decision is not of the slightest 

E R R A T A. 

Page 7, n. I, for Hist. Nat. xx. 24, read ii. 38. 
28, 1. 5, for Opis, read Ops. 
141, 1. 24, for 1500, read 1050. 
170, n. 2, for i. 7, muZ i. 5. 





The enemies of Christianity were wont to say that, since its appearance 
on earth, the gods had shown their hatred of it by sending upon men all 
manner of calamities, and that, owing to the neglect of sacred rites, the 
divine care no longer guarded the world. Arnobius begins by showing 
how baseless this opinion is (1), for the laws and course of nature re- 
main unchanged (2) ; and though the heathen said that since Chris- 
tianity came into the world there had been wars, famines, pestilences, 
and many other similar calamities, these were not new evils, for history 
tells of terrible misery and destruction resulting from such causes in 
past ages (3-5) ; while it should also be noticed, that through the gentle 
and peaceful spirit of Christianity, the world is already relieved in part, 
and that war would be unknown, and men live peacefully together, if it 
prevailed universally (6). If asked, What are, then, the causes of human 
misery ? Arnobius answers that this is no part of his subject (7), but 
suggests that all evil results necessarily from the very nature of things, 
— is, indeed, perhaps not evil at all, but, however opposed to the plea- 
sures or even interests of individuals, tends to general good (8-11) ; and 
that it is therefore somewhat presumptuous in man, a creature so igno- 
rant of himself, to seek to impose conditions on the superior powers (12). 
He further shows the futility of blaming the Christians for all these ills, 
by reminding his opponents that there had been no unvarying series of 
calamities since Christianity came to earth, but that success had counter- 
balanced defeat, and abundance scarcity ; so that arguments such as these 
would prove that the gods were angry at times, at times forgot their 
anger (13-16). But, Arnobius asks, if the gods can be enraged, does 
not this argue mortality and imperfection in them (17, 18), and even 
injustice (19), or weakness, if they need the aid of men in punishing their 


enemies (20) ? As, however, all alike suffer, it is absurd to say that 
Christians are specially aimed at; and, indeed, this is a cry raised by those 
interested in upholding the superstitious rites of antiquity (21-24). But 
assuming that the gods could be enraged, why should they be angry at 
Christians more than others? Because, the heathen said, Christianity 
introduced new and impious forms of religion. In reply to this, Arnobius 
points out that Christians are nothing but worshippers of the supreme 
God, under Christ's teaching and guidance (25-27) ; and shows how ab- 
surd it is to accuse those of impiety who worship the Creator and supreme 
Euler, while those who serve the lesser gods — even foul and. loathsome 
deities — are called religious (28-30) ; and then turns to God Himself, 
beseeching pardon for these ignorant worshippers of His creatures, who 
had neglected Himself (31). He merely notices but refuses to discuss 
the position of those Avho deny that God exists, holding it impious even 
to reason about this, as though it were questionable, while there is an 
instinctive belief and reverence implanted in our breasts (31-33). But, 
his opponents said, we worship Jupiter as the supreme God. Jupiter, 
however, Arnobius points out, cannot claim this rank, for he is ad- 
mittedly not self -existent (34) ; or if, as some said, Jupiter is only 
another name for the Supreme Being, then, as all alike worship Him, 
all must be regarded by Him alike (35). But, his opponents urged, 
you are guilty not in worshipping God, but in worshipping a mere man 
who died on the cross ; to which Arnobius replies, in the first place, by 
retorting the charge as bearing much more forcibly on the heathen them- 
selves (3G, 37) ; and then argues that Christ has sufficiently vindicated 
his claims to divinity by leading the blind and erring and lost into the 
ways of truth and salvation, and by his revelation of things previously 
unknown (38, 39) ; while, again, his death on the cross does not affect 
his teaching and miracles, any more than the loss of life deprived of 
fame Pythagoras, Socrates, Aquilius, Trebonius, or Regulus (40), and 
contrasts favourably with the stories told about Bacchus, iEsculapius, 
Hercules, Attis, and Romulus (41) ; and, finally, asserts Christ's divinity 
as proved by his miracles (42), which are compared with those of the 
Magi both as to their end and the manner in which they were wrought 
(43, 44) ; and the chief features of the miracles of his life on earth and 
his resurrection, of the power of his name, and the spread of his church 
are summarily noticed (45-47). Arnobius next remarks that the heathen 
did not even pretend that their gods had healed the sick without using 
medicines, merely by a word or touch, as Christ did (48) ; and, recalling 
the thousands who had in vain sought divine aid at temple or shrine, 
says that Christ sent none away unhelped (49), and that he gave this 
same power to his followers also (50), which neither priest nor magian 
is found to possess (51, 52). His divinity was shown also by the won- 
ders which attended his death (53). Eye-witnesses — and these most 
trustworthy — testified to Christ's miracles (54) ; and the acceptance by 


the whole world, in so short a time, of his religion attests its truth 
(55). It might be said, however, that the Christian writers were not 
trustworthy, and exaggerated the number and importance of Christ's 
miracles (56) : in reply to which, Arnobius shows that their writings rest 
on as good authority as those of the heathen (57), and that their greater 
novelty and literary rudeness are in their favour rather than otherwise, 
and are certainly of no weight against them (57-59). But, said the 
heathen, if Christ was God, why did he live and die as a man ? Be- 
cause, it is replied, God's own nature could not be made manifest to 
men (60), and His reasons for choosing so to manifest Himself, and not 
otherwise, though they may be within our reach, are certainly concealed 
in much obscurity (61) ; while as to Christ's death, that was but the dis- 
solution of his human frame (62). Hurrying, it would seem, to con- 
clude this part of the discussion, Arnobius hastily points out the great 
powers which Christ might have wielded in his own defence, if he had 
refused to submit to the violence offered him, which however were un- 
used, because he rather chose to do for his disciples all that he had led 
them to look for (63). If, then, kings and tyrants and others who lived 
most wickedly, are honoured and deified, why should Christ, even if he 
asserted falsely that he was a heaven-sent Saviour, be so hated and as- 
sailed (64) ? If one came from distant and unknown regions, promising 
to deliver all from bodily sickness, how gladly would men flock to do 
him honour, and strive for his favour ! How extraordinary, then, is the 
conduct of those who revile and abuse, and would destroy, if they could, 
him who has come to deliver us from spiritual evils, and work out our 
salvation (65) ! 

INCE I have found some who deem them- 
selves very wise in their opinions, acting as if 
they were inspired/ and announcing with all 
the authority of an oracle, 2 that from the time 
when the Christian people began to exist in the world the 
universe has gone to ruin, that the human race has been 
visited with ills of many kinds, that even the very gods, 
abandoning their accustomed charge, in virtue of which they 

1 The words insanire, haccliari, refer to the appearance of the ancient 
seers when under the influence of the deity. So Virgil says, Insanam 
vatem aspicies (JEn. hi. 443), and, Bacchatur vates (JEn. vi. 78). The 
meaning is, that they make their asseverations with all the confidence 
of a seer when filled, as he pretended, with the influence of the god. 

2 Et velut quiddam promptum ex oraculo dicere, i.e. to declare a matter 
with boldness and majesty, as if most certain and undoubted. 


were wont in former days to regard with interest our affairs, 
have been driven from the regions of earth, — I have resolved, 
so far as my capacity and my humble power of language will 
allow, to oppose public prejudice, and to refute calumnious 
accusations ; lest, on the one hand, those persons should ima- 
gine that they are declaring some weighty matter, when they 
are merely retailing vulgar rumours j 1 and on the other, lest, 
if we refrain from such a contest, they should suppose that 
they have gained a cause, lost by its own inherent demerits, 
not abandoned by the silence of its advocates. For I should 
not deny that that charge is a most serious one, and that we 
fully deserve the hatred attaching to public enemies, 2 if it 
should appear that to us are attributable causes by reason of 
which the universe has deviated from its laws, the gods have 
been driven far away, and such swarms of miseries have been 
inflicted on the generations of men. 

2. Let us therefore examine carefully the real significance 
of that opinion, and what is the nature of the allegation ; 
and laying aside all desire for wrangling, 3 by which the calm 
view of subjects is wont to be dimmed, and [even] inter- 
cepted, let us test, by fairly balancing the considerations on 
both sides, whether that which is alleged be true. For it 
will assuredly be proved by an array of convincing arguments, 
not that we are discovered to be more impious, but that 
they themselves are convicted of that charge who profess to 
be worshippers of the deities, and devotees of an antiquated 
superstition. And, in the first place, we ask this of them in 
friendly and calm language : Since the name of the Christian 
religion began to be used on the earth, what phenomenon, 
unseen before, 4 unheard of before, what event contrary to the 
laws established in the beginning, has the so-called " Nature 
of Things" felt or suffered ? Have these first elements, 
from which it is agreed that all things were compacted, been 

1 Popularia verba, i.e. rumours arising from the ignorance of the 
common people. 

2 The Christians were regarded as " public enemies," and were so called. 
8 Or, " all party zeal." 

4 So Meursius, — the MS. reading is inusitatum, " extraordinary." 


altered into elements of an opposite character? Has the 
fabric of this machine and mass [of the universe], by which 
we are all covered, and in which we are held enclosed, re- 
laxed in any part, or broken up ? Has the revolution of the 
globe, to which we are accustomed, departing from the rate 
of its primal motion, begun either to move too slowly, or to 
be hurried onward in headlong rotation? Have the stars 
begun to rise in the west, and the setting of the constellations 
to take place in the east ? Has the sun himself, the chief 
of the heavenly bodies, with whose light all things are 
clothed, and by whose heat all things are vivified, blazed 
forth with increased vehemence ? has he become less warm, 
and has he altered for the worse into opposite conditions that 
well-regulated temperature by which he is wont to act upon 
the earth ? Has the moon ceased to shape herself anew, and 
to change into former phases by the constant recurrence of 
fresh ones ? Has the cold of winter, has the heat of summer, 
has the moderate warmth of spring and autumn, been modi- 
fied by reason of the intermixture of ill-assorted seasons? Has 
the winter begun to have long days 1 has the night begun to 
recall the very tardy twilights of summer ? Have the winds 
at all exhausted their violence ? Is the sky not collected l 
into clouds by reason of the blasts having lost their force, 
and do the fields when moistened by the showers not prosper? 
Does the earth refuse to receive the seed committed to it, or 
will not the trees assume their foliage ? Has the flavour of 
excellent fruits altered, or has the vine changed in its juice ? 
Is foul blood pressed forth from the olive berries, and is [oil] 
no longer supplied to the lamp, now extinguished 1 Have 
animals of the land and of the sea no sexual desires, and do 
they not conceive young ? Do they not guard, according to 
their own habits and their own instinct, the offspring gene- 
rated in their wombs ? In fine, do men themselves, whom an 
active energy with its first impulses has scattered over habit- 
able lands, not form marriages with due rites ? Do they not 
beget dear children? do they not attend to public, to individual, 
and to family concerns ? Do they not apply their talents, as 
1 So Gelenius ; MS., coartatur, " pressed together." 


each one pleases, to varied occupations, to different kinds of 
learning ! and do they not reap the fruit of diligent applica- 
tion ? Do those to whom it has been so allotted, not exercise 
kingly power or military authority? Are men not every 
day advanced in posts of honour, in offices of power? Do 
they not preside in the discussions of the law courts ? Do 
they not explain the code of law ? do they not expound the 
principles of equity ? All other things with which the life 
of man is surrounded, in which it consists, do not all men in 
their own tribes practise, according to the established order 
of their country's manners ? 

3. Since this is so, and since no strange influence has 
suddenly manifested itself to break the continuous course of 
events by interrupting their succession, what is the ground 
of the allegation, that a plague was brought upon the earth 
after the Christian religion came into the world, and after 
it revealed the mysteries of hidden truth ? But pestilences, 
say my opponents, and droughts, wars, famines, locusts, mice, 
and hailstones, and other hurtful things, by which the pro- 
perty of men is assailed, the gods bring upon us, incensed as 
they are by your wrong-doings and by your transgressions. 
If it were not a mark of stupidity to linger on matters 
which are already clear, and which require no defence, I 
should certainly show, by unfolding the history of past ages, 
that those ills which you speak of were not unknown, were 
not sudden in their visitation ; and that the plagues did not 
burst upon us, and the affairs of men begin to be attacked 
by a variety of dangers, from the time that our sect * won 
the honour 2 of this appellation. For if we are to blame, and 
if these plagues have been devised against our sin, whence 
did antiquity know these names for misfortunes ? Whence 
did she give a designation to wars ? By what conception 

1 Or, " race," gens, i.e. the Christian people. 

2 The verb mereri, used in this 'passage, has in Kornan writers the 
idea of merit or excellence of some kind in a person, in virtue of which 
he is deemed worthy of some favour or advantage ; but in ecclesiastical 
Latin it means, as here, to gain something by the mere favour of God, 
without any merit of one's own. 


could she indicate pestilence and hailstorms, or how could 
she introduce these terms among her words, by which speech 
was rendered plain 1 For if these ills are entirely new, and 
if they derive their origin from recent transgressions, how 
could it be that the ancients coined terms for these things, 
which, on the one hand, they knew that they themselves had 
never experienced, and which, on the other, they had not heard 
of as occurring in the time of their ancestors 1 Scarcity of 
produce, say my opponents, and short supplies of grain, press 
more heavily on us. For [I would ask] were the former gene- 
rations, even the most ancient, at any period wholly free from 
such an inevitable calamity? Do not the very words by which 
these ills are characterized bear evidence and proclaim loudly 
that no mortal ever escaped from them with entire immu- 
nity 1 But if the matter were difficult of belief, we might 
urge, on the testimony of authors, how great nations, and 
what individual nations, and how often [such nations] expe- 
rienced dreadful famine, and perished by accumulated devas- 
tation. Very many hailstorms fall upon and assail all things. 
For do we not find it contained and deliberately stated in 
ancient literature, that even showers of stones 1 often ruined 
entire districts 1 Violent rains cause the crops to perish, 
and proclaim barrenness to countries: — were the ancients, in- 
deed, free from these ills, when we have known of 2 mighty 
rivers even being dried up, and the mud of their channels 
parched 1 The contagious influences of pestilence consume 
the human race : — ransack the records of history written 
in various languages, and you will find that all countries 
have often been desolated and deprived of their inhabitants. 
Every kind of crop is consumed, and devoured by locusts and 
by mice : — go through your own annals, and you will be 
taught by these plagues how often former ages were visited 
by them, and how often they were brought to the wretched- 
ness of poverty. Cities shaken by powerful earthquakes 
totter to their destruction : — what ! did not bygone days wit- 

1 See Livy, i. 31, etc. ; and Pliny, Nat. Hist. xx. 24. 

2 The MS. reads, flumina cognoverimus ingentia lim-m-is ingentia sic- 
catis, " that mighty rivers shrunk up, leaving the mud," etc. 


ness cities with their populations engulphed by huge rents of 
the earth? 1 or did they enjoy a condition exempt from such 
disasters ? 

4. When was the human race destroyed by a flood ? was 
it not before us ? When was the world set on fire, 2 and re- 
duced to coals and ashes ? was it not before us ? When 
were the greatest cities engulphed in the billows of the sea ? 
was it not before us ? When were wars waged with wild 
beasts, and battles fought with lions? 3 was it not before 
us ? When was ruin brought on whole communities by 
poisonous serpents ? 4 was it not before us ? For, inasmuch 
as you are wont to lay to our blame the cause of frequent 
wars, the devastation of cities, the irruptions of the Germans 
and the Scythians, allow me, with your leave, to say, — In 
your eagerness to calumniate us, you do not perceive the real 
nature of that which is alleged. 

5. Did we bring it about, that ten thousand years ago a vast 
number of men burst forth from the island which is called 
the Atlantis of Neptune, 5 as Plato tells us, and utterly ruined 
and blotted out countless tribes ? Did this form a prejudice 
against us, that between the Assyrians and Bactrians, under 
the leadership of Ninus and Zoroaster of old, a struggle was 
maintained not only by the sword and by physical power, 
but also by magicians, and by the mysterious learning of the 
Chaldeans ? Is it to be laid to the charge of our religion, 

1 So Tertullian, Apologet. 40, says, — " We have read that the islands 
Hiera, Anaphe, Delos, Rhodes, and Cos were destroyed, together with 
many human beings." 

2 Arnobius, no doubt, speaks of the story of Phaethon, as told by 
Ovid ; on which, cf. Plato, Tim. st. p. 22. 

3 Nourry thinks that reference is here made to the contests of gladiators 
and athletes with lions and other beasts in the circus. But it is more 
likely that the author is thinking of African tribes who were harassed 
by lions. Thus JSlian (de Nat. Anim. xvii. 24) tells of a Libyan people, 
the Nomsei, who were entirely destroyed by lions. 

4 The city of Amyclae in Italy is referred to, which was destroyed by 

5 In the Timseus of Plato, c. vi. st. p. 24, an old priest of Sais, in 
Egypt, is represented as telling Solon that in times long gone by the 
Athenians were a very peaceful and very brave people, and that 9000 


that Helen was carried off under the guidance and at the 
instigation of the gods, and that she became a direful destiny 
to her own and to after times ? Was it because of our name, 
that that mad-cap Xerxes let the ocean in upon the land, 
and that he marched over the sea on foot? Did we pro- 
duce and stir into action the causes, by reason of which one 
youth, starting from Macedonia, subjected the kingdoms and 
peoples of the East to captivity and to bondage ? Did we, 
forsooth, urge the deities into frenzy, so that the Komans 
lately, like some swollen torrent, overthrew all nations, and 
swept them beneath the flood ? But if there is no man who 
would dare to attribute to our times those things which took 
place long ago, how can we be the causes of the present 
misfortunes, when nothing new is occurring, but all things 
are old, and were unknown to none of the ancients? 

6. Although you allege that those wars which you speak 
of were excited through hatred of our religion, it would 
not be difficult to prove, that after the name of Christ was 
heard in the world, not only were they not increased, but 
they were even in great measure diminished by the restrain- 
ing of furious passions. For since we, a numerous band of 
men as we are, have learned from his teaching and his laws 
that evil ought not to be requited with evil, 1 that it is better 
to suffer wrong than to inflict it, that we should rather shed 
our own blood than stain our hands and our conscience with 

years before that time they had overcome a mighty host which came 
rushing from the Atlantic Sea, and which threatened to subjugate all 
Europe and Asia. The sea was then navigable, and in front of the 
pillars of Hercules (Strait of Gibraltar) lay an island larger than Africa 
and Asia together : from it travellers could pass to other islands, and 
from these again to the opposite continent. In this island great kings 
arose, who made themselves masters of the whole island, as well as of 
other islands, and parts of the continent. Having already possessions in 
Libya and Europe, which they wished to increase, they gathered an im- 
mense host ; but it was repelled by the Athenians. Great earthquakes 
and storms ensued, in which the island of Atlantis was submerged, and 
the sea ever after rendered impassable by shoals of mud produced by the 
sunken island. For other forms of this legend, and explanations of it, 
see Smith's Dictionary of Geography, under Atlantis. 
1 Cf. Matt. v. 39. 


that of another, an ungrateful world is now for a long period 
enjoying a benefit from Christ, inasmuch as by his means 
the rage of savage ferocity has been softened, and has begun 
to withhold hostile hands from the blood of a fellow-creature. 
But if all without exception, who feel that they are men not 
in form of body but in power of reason, would lend an ear 
for a little to his salutary and peaceful rules, and would not, 
in the pride and arrogance of enlightenment, trust to their 
own senses rather than to his admonitions, the whole world, 
having turned the use of steel into more peaceful occupations, 
would now be living in the most placid tranquillity, and 
would unite in blessed harmony, maintaining inviolate the 
sanctity of treaties. 

7. But if, say my opponents, no damage is done to human 
affairs by you, whence arise those evils by which wretched 
mortals are now oppressed and overwhelmed ? You ask of 
me a decided statement, 1 which is by no means necessary 
to this cause. For no immediate and prepared discussion 
regarding it has been undertaken by me, for the purpose of 
showing or proving from what causes and for what reasons 
each event took place ; but in order to demonstrate that the 
reproaches of so grave a charge are far removed from our 
door. And if I prove this, if by examples and 2 by powerful 
arguments the truth of the matter is made clear, I care not 
whence these evils come, or from what sources and first be- 
ginnings they flow. 

8. And yet, that I may not seem to have no opinion on 
subjects of this kind, that I may not appear when asked to 
have nothing to offer, I may say, What if the primal matter 
which has been diffused through the four elements of the 
universe, contains the causes of all miseries inherent in its 
own constitution ? What if the movements of the heavenly 
bodies produce these evils in certain signs, regions, seasons, 
and tracts, and impose upon things placed under them the 
necessity of various dangers ? What if, at stated intervals, 

1 The MS. here inserts a mark of interrogation. 

2 So the MS., si facto et, corrected, however, by a later copyist, si 
facio at, " if I cause that," etc. 


changes take place in the universe, and, as in the tides of the 
sea, prosperity at one time flows, at another time ebbs, evils 
alternating with it? What if those impurities of matter 
which we tread under our feet have this condition imposed 
upon them, that they give forth the most noxious exhalations, 
by means of which this our atmosphere is corrupted, and 
brings pestilence on our bodies, and weakens the human race? 
What if — and this seems nearest the truth — whatever appears 
to us adverse, is in reality not an evil to the world itself ? 
And what if, measuring by our own advantages all things 
which take place, we blame the results of nature through ill- 
formed judgments ! Plato, that sublime head and pillar of 
philosophers, has declared in his writings, that those cruel 
floods and those conflagrations of the world are a purification 
of the earth ; nor did that wise man dread to call the over- 
throw of the human race, its destruction, ruin, and death, a 
renewal of things, and to affirm that a youthfulness, as it 
were, was secured by this renewed strength. 1 

9. It rains not from heaven, my opponent says, and we 
are in distress from some extraordinary deficiency of grain 
crops. What then, do you demand that the elements should 
be the slaves of your wants ? and that you may be able to 
live more softly and more delicately, ought the compliant 
seasons to minister to your convenience ? What if, in this 
way, one who is intent on voyaging complains that now for a 
long time there are no winds, and that the blasts of heaven 
have for ever lulled ? Is it therefore to be said that that 
peacefulness of the universe is pernicious, because it interferes 
with the wishes of traders ? What if one, accustomed to bask 
himself in the sun, and thus to acquire dryness of body, simi- 
larly complains that by the clouds the pleasure of serene 
weather is taken away? Should the clouds, therefore, be 
said to hang over with an injurious veil, because idle lust is 
not permitted to scorch itself in the burning heat, and to 
devise excuses for drinking? All these events which are 
brought to pass, and which happen under this mass of the 
universe, are not to be regarded as sent for our petty advan- 
1 Plato, Tim. st. p. 22. 


tages, but as consistent with the plans and arrangements of 
Nature herself. 

10. And if anything happens which does not foster our- 
selves or our affairs with joyous success, it is not to be set 
down forthwith as an evil, and as a pernicious thing. The 
world rains or does not rain : for itself it rains or does not 
rain ; and, though you perhaps are ignorant of it, it either 
diminishes excessive moisture by a burning drought, or by the 
outpouring of rain moderates the dryness extending over a 
very long period. It raises pestilences, diseases, famines, and 
other baneful forms of plagues : how can you tell whether it 
does not thus remove that which is in excess, and whether, 
through loss to themselves, it does not fix a limit to things 
prone to luxuriance ? 

11. Would you venture to say that, in this universe, this 
thing or the other thing is an evil, whose origin and cause 
you are unable to explain and to analyze ? x And because 
it interferes with your lawful, perhaps even your unlawful 
pleasures, would you say that it is pernicious and adverse ? 
What, then, because cold is disagreeable to your members, 
and is wont to chill 2 the warmth of your blood, ought not 
winter on that account to exist in the world ? And because 
you are unable 3 to endure the hottest rays of the sun, is 
summer to be removed from the year, and a different course 
of nature to be instituted under different laws? Hellebore is 
poison to men ; should it therefore not grow ? The wolf lies 
in wait by the sheepfolds ; is nature at all in fault, because 
she has produced a beast most dangerous to sheep ? The 
serpent by his bite takes away life ; a reproach, forsooth, to 
creation, because it has added to animals monsters so cruel. 

12. It is rather presumptuous, when you are not your own 
master, even when you are the property of another, to dictate 
terms to those more powerful ; to wish that that should hap- 
pen which you desire, not that which you have found fixed 

1 " To analyze " — dissolvere — is in the MS. marked as spurious. 

2 In the MS. we find "to chill and numb" — congelare, constringere ; 
but the Last word, too, is marked as spurious. 

3 MS. sustinere (marked as a gloss), "to sustain;" perferre, "to endure." 


in things by their original constitution. Wherefore, if you 
wish that your complaints should have a basis, you must first 
inform us whence you are, or who you are ; whether the 
world was created and fashioned for you, or whether you 
came into it as sojourners from other regions. And since it 
is not in your power to say or to explain for what purpose 
you live beneath this vault of heaven, cease to believe that 
anything belongs to you ; since those things which take place 
are not brought about in favour of a part, but have regard 
to the interest of the whole. 

13. Because of the Christians, my opponents say, the gods 
inflict upon us all calamities, and ruin is brought on our 
crops by the heavenly deities. I ask, when you say these 
things, do you not see that you are accusing us with bare- 
faced effrontery, with palpable and clearly proved falsehoods? 
It is almost three hundred years l — something less or more — 
since we Christians began to exist, and to be taken account 
of in the world. During all these years, have wars been 
incessant, has there been a yearly failure of the crops, has 
there been no peace on earth, has there been no season of 
cheapness and abundance of all things 1 For this must first 
be proved by him who accuses us, that these calamities have 
been endless and incessant, that men have never had a 
breathing time at all, and that without any relaxation 2 they 
have undergone dangers of many forms. 

14. And yet do we not see that, in these years and seasons 
that have intervened, victories innumerable have been gained 
from the conquered enemy, — that the boundaries of the 
empire have been extended, and that nations whose names 
we had not previously heard, have been brought under our 
power, — that very often there have been the most plentiful 
yields of grain, seasons of cheapness, and such abundance 
of commodities, that all commerce was paralyzed, being pros- 
trated by the standard of prices ? For in what manner could 
affairs be carried on, and how could the human race have 

1 See Introduction. 

2 Sine ullisferiis, a proverbial expression, "without any holidays," i.e. 
without any intermixture of good. 


existed 1 even to this time, had not the productiveness of 
nature continued to supply all things which use demanded t 

15. Sometimes, however, there were seasons of scarcity ; 
yet they were relieved by times of plenty. Again, certain 
wars were carried on contrary to our wishes. 2 But they were 
afterwards compensated by victories and successes. What 
shall we say, then ? — that the gods at one time bore in mind 
our acts of wrong-doing, at another time again forgot them ? 
If, when there is a famine, the gods are said to be enraged 
at us, it follows that in time of plenty they are not wroth, 
and ill-to-be-appeased ; and so the matter comes to this, that 
they both lay aside and resume anger with sportive whim, 
and always renew their wrath afresh by the recollection of 
the causes of offence. 

16. Yet one cannot discover by any rational process of 
reasoning, what is the meaning of these statements. If the 
gods willed that the Alemanni 3 and the Persians should be 
overcome because Christians dwelt among their tribes, how 
did they grant victory to the Romans when Christians dwelt 
among their peoples also ? If they willed that mice and 
locusts should swarm forth in prodigious numbers in Asia 
and in Syria because Christians dwelt among their tribes too, 
why was there at the same time no such phenomenon in 
Spain and in Gaul, although innumerable Christians lived in 
those provinces also ? If among the Gsetuli and the Tingui- 
tani 4 they sent dryness and aridity on the crops on account 
of this circumstance, why did they in that very year give 
the most bountiful harvest to the Moors and to the Nomads, 
when a similar religion had its abode in these regions as 
well ? If in any one state whatever they have caused many 

1 For qui durare Ursinus would read quiret durare ; but this seems 
to have no MS. authority, though giving better sense and an easier con- 

2 That is, unsuccessfully. 

3 Alemanni, i.e. the Germans ; hence the French Allemagne. The MS. 
has Alamanni. 

4 The Gsetuli and Tinguitani were African tribes. For Tinguitanos, 
another reading is tunc Aquitanos ; but Tinguitanos is much to be pre- 
ferred on every ground. 


to die with hunger, through disgust at our name, why have 
they in the same state made wealthier, ay, very rich, by the 
high price of corn, not only men not of our body, but even 
Christians themselves 1 Accordingly, either all should have 
had no blessing if we are the cause of the evils, for we are in 
all nations; or when you see blessings mixed with misfortunes, 
cease to attribute to us that which damages your interests, 
when we in no respect interfere with your blessings and pros- 
perity. For if I cause it to be ill with you, why do I not 
prevent it from being well with you ? If my name is the 
cause of a great dearth, why am I powerless to prevent the 
greatest productiveness ? If I am said to bring the [ill] luck 
of a wound being received in war, w T hy, when the enemy are 
slain, am I not an evil augury ; and why am I not set forth 
against good hopes, through the ill luck of a bad omen ? 

17. And yet, O ye great worshippers and priests of the 
deities, why, as you assert that those most holy gods are en- 
raged at Christian communities, do you not likewise perceive, 
do you not see what base feelings, what unseemly frenzies, 
you attribute to your deities ? For, to be angry, what else is 
it than to be insane, to rave, to be urged to the lust of ven- 
geance, and to revel in the troubles of another's grief, through 
the madness of a savage disposition ? Your great gods, then, 
know, are subject to and feel that which wild beasts, which 
monstrous brutes experience, which the deadly plant natrix 
contains in its poisoned roots. That nature which is superior 
to others, and which is based on the firm foundation of 
unwavering virtue, experiences, as you allege, the instability 
which is in man, the faults which are in the animals of earth. 
And what therefore follows of necessity, but that from their 
eyes flashes dart, flames burst forth, a panting breast emits a 
hurried breathing from their mouth, and by reason of their 
burning words their parched lips become pale f 

18. But if this that you say is true, — if it has been tested 
and thoroughly ascertained both that the gods boil with rage, 
and that an impulse of this kind agitates the divinities with 
excitement, on the one hand they are not immortal, and on 
the other they are not to be reckoned as at all partaking of 


divinity. For wherever, as the philosophers hold, there is any 
agitation, there of necessity passion must exist. Where pas- 
sion is situated, it is reasonable that mental excitement follow. 
Where there is mental excitement, there grief and sorrow 
exist. Where grief and sorrow exist, there is already room 
for weakening and decay; and if these two harass them, 
extinction is at hand, viz. death, which ends all things, and 
takes away life from every sentient being. 

19. Moreover, in this way you represent them as not only 
unstable and excitable, but, what all agree is far removed 
from the character of deity, as unfair in their dealings, as 
wrong-doers, and, in fine, as possessing positively no amount 
of even moderate fairness. For what is a greater wrong than 
to be angry with some, and to injure others, to complain 
of human beings, and to ravage the harmless corn crops, to 
hate the Christian name, and to ruin the worshippers of Christ 
with every kind of loss ? 

20. *Do they on this account wreak their wrath on you too, 
in order that, roused by your own private wounds, you may 
rise up for their vengeance ? It seems, then, that the gods 
seek the help of mortals ; and were they not protected by 
your strenuous advocacy, they are not able of themselves to 
repel and to avenge 2 the insults offered them. Nay rather, 
if it be true that they burn with anger, give them an oppor- 
tunity of defending themselves, and let them put forth and 
make trial of their innate powers, to take vengeance for their 
offended dignity. By heat, by hurtful cold, by noxious winds, 
by the most occult diseases, they can slay us, they can con- 
sume 3 us, and they can drive us entirely from all intercourse 
with men ; or if it is impolitic to assail us by violence, let 
them give forth some token of their indignation, 4 by which it 
may be clear to all that we live under heaven subject to their 
strong displeasure. 

21. To you let them give good health, to us bad, ay, the 

1 The MS. reads a?, "but." 

2 Defendere is added in the MS., but marked as a gloss. 
8 Consumere is in like manner marked as a gloss. 

4 So Orelli, for the MS. judicatioiiis, " judgment." 


very worst. Let them water your farms with seasonable 
showers ; from our little fields let them drive away all those 
rains which are gentle. Let them see to it that your sheep 
are multiplied by a numerous progeny; on our flocks let 
them bring luckless barrenness. From your olive-trees and 
vineyards let them bring the full harvest ; but let them see 
to it that from not one shoot of ours one drop be expressed. 
Finally, and as their worst, let them give orders that in your 
mouth the products of the earth retain their natural quali- 
ties; but, on the contrary, that in ours the honey become 
bitter, the flowing oil grow rancid, and that the wine when 
sipped, be in the very lips suddenly changed into disappoint- 
ing vinegar. 

22. And since facts themselves testify that this result 
never occurs, and since it is plain that to us no less share 
of the bounties of life accrues, and to you no greater, what 
inordinate desire is there to assert that the gods are unfa- 
vourable, nay, inimical to the Christians, who, in the greatest 
adversity, just as in prosperity, differ from you in no respect? 
If you allow the truth to be told you, and that, too, without 
reserve, these allegations are but words, — words, I say ; nay, 
matters believed on calumnious reports not proved by any 
certain evidence. 

23. But the true x gods, and those who are worthy to have 
and to wear the dignity of this name, neither conceive anger 
nor indulge a grudge, nor do they contrive by insidious de- 
vices what may be hurtful to another party. For verily it 
is profane, and surpasses all acts of sacrilege, to believe that 
that wise and most blessed nature is uplifted in mind if one 
prostrates himself before it in humble adoration ; and if this 
adoration be not paid, that it deems itself despised, and re- 
gards itself as fallen from the pinnacle of its glory. It is 
childish, weak, and petty, and scarcely becoming for those 
whom the experience of learned men has for a long time 
called demigods and heroes, 2 not to be versed in heavenly 

1 The carelessness of some copyist makes the MS. read ve-st-ri, "your," 
corrected as above by Ursinus. 

2 So Ursinus, followed by Heraldus, LB., and Orelli, for the MS. 


things, and, divesting themselves of their own proper state, 
to be busied with the coarser matter of earth. 

24. These are your ideas, these are your sentiments, im- 
piously conceived, and more impiously believed. Nay, rather, 
to speak out more truly, the augurs, the dream interpreters, 
the soothsayers, the prophets, and the priestlings, ever vain, 
have devised these fables ; for they, fearing that their own 
arts be brought to nought, and that they may extort but 
scanty contributions from the devotees, now few and infre- 
quent, whenever they have found you to be willing 1 that their 
craft should come into disrepute, cry aloud, The gods are 
neglected, and in the temples there is now a very thin attend- 
ance. Former ceremonies are exposed to derision, and the 
time-honoured rites of institutions once sacred have sunk be- 
fore the superstitions of new religions. Justly is the human 
race afflicted by so many pressing calamities, justly is it racked 
by the hardships of so many toils. And men — a senseless race 
— being unable, from their inborn blindness, to see even that 
which is placed in open light, dare to assert in their frenzy 
what you in your sane mind do not blush to believe. 

25. And lest any one should suppose that we, through 
distrust in our reply, invest the gods with the gifts of serenity, 
that we assign to them minds free from resentment, and far 
removed from all excitement, let us allow, since it is pleasing 
to you, that they put forth their passion upon us, that they 
thirst for our blood, and that now for a long time they are 
eager to remove us from the generations of men. But if it 
is not troublesome to you, if it is not offensive, if it is a 
matter of common duty to discuss the points of this argument 

errores, which Stewechius would change into errones — " vagrants " — re- 
ferring to the spirits wandering over the earth : most other edd., fol- 
lowing Gelenius, read, " called demigods, that these indeed" — dsemonas 
appcllat, ct hos, etc. 

1 So the MS., which is corrected in the first ed. " us to be willing " — 
nos velle: Stewechius reads, "us to be making good progress, are en- 
vious, enraged, and cry aloud," etc. — nos belle provenire conipererunt, 
invident, indignantur, declamltantque, etc. ; to both of which it is suffi- 
cient objection that they do not improve the passage by their departure 
from the MS. 


not on grounds of partiality, but on those of truth, we de- 
mand to hear from you what is the explanation of this, what 
the cause, why, on the one hand, the gods exercise cruelty 
on us alone, and why, on the other, men burn against us 
with exasperation. You follow, our opponents say, profane 
religious systems, and you practise rites unheard of through- 
out the entire world. What do you, O men, endowed with 
reason, dare to assert? What do you dare to prate of? 
What do you try to bring forward in the recklessness of 
unguarded speech ? To adore God as the highest existence, 
as the Lord of all things that be, as occupying the highest 
place among all exalted ones, to pray to Him with respectful 
submission in our distresses, to cling to Him with all our 
senses, so to speak, to love Him, to look up to Him with 
faith, — is this an execrable and unhallowed religion, full of 
impiety and of sacrilege, polluting by the superstition of its 
own novelty ceremonies instituted of old ? 

26. Is this, I pray, that daring and heinous iniquity on 
account of which the mighty powers of heaven whet against 
us the stings of passionate indignation, on account of which 
you yourselves, whenever the savage desire has seized you, 
spoil us of our goods, drive us from the homes of our fathers, 
inflict upon us capital punishment, torture, mangle, burn us, 
and at the last expose us to wild beasts, and give us to be 
torn by monsters? Whosoever condemns that in us, or 
considers that it should be laid against us as a charge, is he 
deserving either to be called by the name of man, though he 
seem so to himself? or is he to be believed a god, although 
he declare himself to be so by the mouth of a thousand 1 pro- 
phets ? Does Trophonius, 2 or Jupiter of Dodona, pronounce 
us to be wicked ? And will he himself be called god, and be 
reckoned among the number of the deities, who either fixes 
the charge of impiety on those who serve the King Supreme, 
or is racked with envy because His majesty and His worship 
are preferred to his own? 

1 So LB. and Orelli ; but the MS. reads, " himself to be like [a god] 
by [his] prophets," etc. — se esse similem prqfiteatur in vatibus. 

2 So corrected by Pithceus for the MS. pro/anus. 


Is Apollo, whether called Delian or Clarian, Didymean, 
Philesian, or Pythian, to be reckoned divine, who either 
knows not the Supreme Ruler, or who is not aware that He 
is entreated by us in daily prayers ? And although he knew 
not the secrets of our hearts, and though he did not discover 
what we hold in our inmost thoughts, yet he might either 
know by his ear, or might perceive by the very tone of voice 
which we use in prayer, that we invoke God Supreme, and 
that we beg from Him what we require. 

27. This is not the place to examine all our traducers, who 
they are, or whence they are, what is their power, what their 
knowledge, why they tremble at the mention of Christ, why 
they regard his disciples as enemies and as hateful persons ; 
but [with regard to ourselves] to state expressly to those who 
will exercise common reason, in terms applicable to all of us 
alike, — We Christians are nothing else than worshippers of 
the Supreme King and Head, under our Master, Christ. If 
you examine carefully, you will find that nothing else is 
implied in that religion. This is the sum of all that we do ; 
this is the proposed end and limit of sacred duties. Before 
Him we all prostrate ourselves, according to our custom ; 
Him we adore in joint prayers ; from Him we beg things 
just and honourable, and worthy of his ear. Not that He 
needs our supplications, or loves to see the homage of so 
many thousands laid at his feet. This is our benefit, and 
has a regard to our advantage. For since we are prone to 
err, and to yield to various lusts and appetites through the 
fault of our innate weakness, He allows Himself at all times 
to be comprehended in our thoughts, that whilst we entreat 
Him and strive to merit his bounties, we may receive a 
desire for purity, and may free ourselves from every stain 
by the removal of all our shortcomings. 

28. What say ye, O interpreters of sacred and of divine 
law? 1 Are they attached to a better cause who adore 

1 So Gelenius, followed by Orelli and others, for the MS., reading 
divini interpretes viri (instead of juris) — " men, interpreters of the 
sacred and divine," which is retained by the 1st ed., Hildebrand, and 


the Lares Grundules, the Aii Locutii, 1 and the Limen- 
tini, 2 than we who worship God the Father of all things, and 
demand of Him protection in danger and distress ? They, 
too, seem to you wary, wise, most sagacious, and not worthy 
of any blame, who revere Fauni and Fatuse, and the genii 
of states, 3 who worship Pausi and Bellonse : — we are pro- 
nounced dull, doltish, fatuous, stupid, and senseless, who 
have given ourselves up to God, at whose nod and pleasure 
everything which exists has its being, and remains immoveable 
by his eternal decree. Do you put forth this opinion ? Have 
you ordained this law? Do you publish this decree, that he 
be crowned with the highest honours who shall worship your 
slaves ? that he merit the extreme penalty of the cross who 
shall offer prayers to you yourselves, his masters? In the 
greatest states, and in the most powerful nations, sacred rites 
are performed in the public name to harlots, who in old days 
earned the wages of impurity, and prostituted themselves to 
the lust of all ; 4 [and yet for this] there are no swellings of 
indignation on the part of the deities. Temples have been 
erected with lofty roofs to cats, to beetles, and to heifers :' 5 — 
the powers of the deities thus insulted are silent; nor are 
they affected with any feeling of envy because they see the 
sacred attributes of vile animals put in rivalry with them. 
Are the deities inimical to us alone ? To us are they most 

1 Aii Locutii. Shortly before the Gallic invasion, B.C. 390, a voice 
was heard at the dead of night announcing the approach of the Gauls, 
but the warning was unheeded. After the departure of the Gauls, the 
Eomans dedicated an altar and sacred enclosure to Aius Locutius, or 
Loquens, i.e. " The Announcing Speaker," at a spot on the Via Nova, 
where the voice was heard. The MS. reads aiaceos boetios, which Gelenius 
emended Aios Locutios. 

2 So emended by Ursinus for the MS. Ubentinos, which is retained in 
the 1st ed., and by Gelenius, Canterus, and others. Cf. iv. 9, where 
Libentina is spoken of as presiding over lusts. 

3 As a soul was assigned to each individual at his birth, so a genius 
was attributed to a state. The genius of the Roman people was often 
represented on ancient coins. 

4 Thus the Athenians paid honours to Lesena, the Romans to Acca 
Laurentia and Flora. 

6 The superstitions of the Egyptians are here specially referred to. 


unrelenting, because we worship their Author, by whom, if 
they do exist, they began to be, and to have the essence 
of their power and their majesty, from whom, having ob- 
tained their very divinity, so to speak, they feel that they 
exist, and realize that they are reckoned among things 
that be, at whose will and at whose behest they are able 
both to perish and be dissolved, and not to be dissolved and 
not to perish % l For if we all grant that there is only one 
great Being, whom in the long lapse of time nought else 
precedes, it necessarily follows that after Him all things 
were generated and put forth, and that they burst into an 
existence each of its kind. But if this is unchallenged and 
sure, you 2 will be compelled as a consequence to confess, on 
the one hand, that the deities are created, 3 and on the other, 
that they derive the spring of their existence from the great 
source of things. And if they are created and brought 
forth, they are also doubtless liable to annihilation and to 
dangers ; but yet they are believed to be immortal, ever- 
existent, and subject to no extinction. This is also a gift 
from God their Author, that they have been privileged to 
remain the same through countless ages, though by nature 
they are fleeting, and liable to dissolution. 

29. And would that it were allowed me to deliver this 
argument with the whole world formed, as it were, into one 
assembly, and to be placed in the hearing of all the human 
race ! Are we therefore charged before you with an impious 
religion? and because we approach the Head and Pillar 4 
of the universe with worshipful service, are we to be con- 
sidered (to use the terms employed by you in reproaching us) 
as persons to be shunned, and as godless ones ? And who 
would more properly bear the odium of these names than he 

1 That is, by whose pleasure and at whose command they are pre- 
served from annihilation. 

2 So Orelli, adopting a conjecture of Meursius, for the MS. nobis. 

3 That is, not self-existent % but sprung from something previously in 

4 Columen is here regarded by some as equal to culmen ; but the term 
" pillar" makes a good sense likewise. 


who either knows, or inquires after, or believes any other 
sod rather than this of ours ? To Him do we not owe this 
first, that we exist, that we are said to be men, that, being 
either sent forth from Him, or having fallen from Him, we 
are confined in the darkness of this body ! ' Does it not come 
from Him that we walk, that we breathe and live ? and by 
the very power of living, does He not cause us to exist and 
to move with the activity of animated being ? From this do 
not causes emanate, through which our health is sustained by 
the bountiful supply of various pleasures ? Whose is that 
world in which you live? or who hath authorized you to 
retain its produce and its possession ? Who hath given that 
common light, enabling us to see distinctly all things lying 
beneath it, to handle them, and to examine them ? Who 
has ordained that the fires of the sun should exist for the 
growth of things, lest elements pregnant with life should be 
numbed by settling down in the torpor of inactivity ? When 
you believe that the sun is a deity, do you not ask who is his 
founder, who has fashioned him ? Since the moon is a god- 
dess in your estimation, do you in like manner care to know 
who is her author and framer ? 

30. Does it not occur to you to reflect and to examine in 
whose domain you live ! on whose property you are ? whose 
is that earth which you till? 2 whose is that air which you 
inhale, and return again in breathing ? whose fountains do 
you abundantly enjoy? whose water? who has regulated 
the blasts of the wind? who has contrived the watery 
clouds? who has discriminated the productive powers of 
seeds by special characteristics ? Does Apollo give you rain ? 
Does Mercury send you water from heaven ? Has iEscu- 
lapius, Hercules, or Diana devised the plan of showers and 

1 This is according to the doctrine of Pythagoras, Plato, Origen, and 
others, who taught that the souls of men first existed in heavenly beings, 
and that on account of sins of long standing they were transferred to 
earthly bodies to suffer punishment. Cf. Clem. Alex. Strom, iii. p. 433. 

2 The Peripatetics called God the locus rerum, roTrog nu.vrwj, the 
" locality and the area of all things," that is, the being in whom all 
else was contained. 


of storms f And Low can this be, when you give forth that 
they were born on earth, and that at a fixed period they 
received vital perceptions ? For if the world preceded them 
in the long lapse of time, and if before they were born 
nature already experienced rains and storms, those who were 
born later have no right of rain-giving, nor can they mix 
themselves up with those methods which they found to be 
in operation here, and to be derived from a greater Author. 

31. O greatest, O supreme Creator of things invisible ! 
O thou who art thyself unseen, and who art incomprehen- 
sible ! Thou art worthy, thou art verily worthy — if only 
mortal tongue may speak of thee — that all breathing and 
intelligent nature should never cease to feel and to return 
thanks ; that it should throughout the whole of life fall on 
bended knee, and offer supplication with never-ceasing prayers. 
For thou art the first cause; in thee created things exist, 
and thou art the space in which rest the foundations of all 
things, whatever they be. Thou art illimitable, unbegotten, 
immortal, enduring for aye, God thyself alone, whom no 
bodily shape may represent, no outline delineate ; of virtues 
inexpressible, of greatness indefinable ; unrestricted as to 
locality, movement, and condition, concerning whom nothing 
can be clearly expressed by the significance of man's words. 
That thou mayest be understood, we must be silent; and 
that erring conjecture may track thee through the shady 
cloud, no word must be uttered. Grant pardon, O King 
Supreme, to those who persecute thy servants ; and in virtue 
of thy benign nature, forgive those who fly from the worship 
of thy name and the observance of thy religion. It is not to 
be wondered at if thou art unknown ; it is a cause of greater 
astonishment if thou art clearly comprehended. But per- 
chance some one dares — for this remains for frantic mad- 
ness to do — to be uncertain, and to express doubt whether 
that God exists or not ; whether He is believed in on the 
proved truth of reliable evidence, or on the imaginings of 
empty rumour. For of those who have given themselves to 
philosophizing, we have heard that some 1 deny the existence 
1 Diagoras of Melos and Theodoras of Cyrene, called the Atheists. 


of any divine power, that others 1 inquire daily whether there 
be or not; that others 2 construct the whole fabric of the 
universe by chance accidents and by random collision, and 
fashion it by the concourse of atoms of different shapes ; with 
whom we by no means intend to enter at this time on a dis- 
cussion of such perverse convictions. 3 For those who think 
wisely say, that to argue against things palpably foolish, is a 
mark of greater folly. 

32. Our discussion deals with those who, acknowledging 
that there is a divine race of beings, doubt about those of 
greater rank and power, whilst they admit that there are 
deities inferior and more humble. What then? Do we 
strive and toil to obtain such results by arguments? Far 
hence be such madness ; and, as the phrase is, let the folly, 
say I, be averted from us. For it is as dangerous to attempt 
to prove by arguments that God is the highest being, as it is 
to wish to discover by reasoning of this kind that He exists. 
It is a matter of indifference whether you deny that He exists, 
or affirm it and admit it ; since equally culpable are both the 
assertion of such a thing, and the denial of an unbelieving 

33. Is there any human being who has not entered on the 
first day of his life with an idea of that Great Head ? In 
whom has it not been implanted by nature, on whom has it 
not been impressed, aye, stamped almost in his mother's womb 
even, in whom is there not a native instinct, that He is King 
and Lord, the ruler of all things that be ? In fine, if the 
dumb animals even could stammer forth their thoughts, if 
they were able to use our languages ; nay, if trees, if the clods 
of the earth, if stones animated by vital perceptions were able 
to produce vocal sounds, and to utter articulate speech, would 
they not in that case, with nature as their guide and teacher, 

The former flourished about B.C. 430, the latter about B.C. 310. See 
Cic. Nat. Deor. i. 2. 

1 Protagoras of Abdera, b. B.C. 480, d. 411. 

2 Democritus of Abdera, b. B.C. 460, and Epicurus, b. B.C. 342, d. 270. 

3 Obstinatione, literally " stubbornness;" Walker conjectures ojnnatione, 
"imaginings," which Orelli approves. 


in the faith of uncorrupted innocence, both feel that there is 
a God, and proclaim that He alone is Lord of all ? 

34. But in vain, says one, do you assail us with a ground- 
less and calumnious charge, as if we deny that there is a deity 
of a higher kind, since Jupiter is by us both called and esteemed 
the best and the greatest ; and since we have dedicated to 
him the most sacred abodes, and have raised huge Capitols. 
You are endeavouring to connect together things which are 
dissimilar, and to force them into one class, [thereby] intro- 
ducing confusion. For by the unanimous judgment of all, and 
by the common consent of the human race, the omnipotent 
God is regarded as having never been born, as having never 
been brought forth to new light, and as not having begun 
to exist at any time or century. For He Himself is the 
source of all things, the Father of ages and of seasons. For 
they do not exist of themselves, but from His everlasting 
perpetuity they move on in unbroken and ever endless flow. 
Yet Jupiter indeed, as you allege, has both father and 
mother, grandfathers, grandmothers, and brothers : now 
lately conceived in the womb of his mother, being completely 
formed and perfected in ten months, he burst with vital sensa- 
tions into light unknown to him before. If, then, this is so, 
how can Jupiter be God [supreme], when it is evident that 
He is everlasting, and the former is represented by you as 
having had a natal day, and as having uttered a mournful 
cry, through terror at the strange scene ? 

35. But suppose they be one, as you wish, and not different 
in any power of deity and in majesty, do you therefore per- 
secute us with undeserved hatred % Why do you shudder 
at the mention of our name as of the worst omen, if we too 
worship the deity whom you worship 1 or why do you con- 
tend that the gods are friendly to you, but inimical, aye, 
most hostile to us, though our relations to them are the same ? 
For if one religion is common to us and to you, the anger of 
the gods is stayed j 1 but if they are hostile to us alone, it is 

1 So the MS. ; for which Meursius would read, nobis vobisque, com- 
munis esset (for cessat) — "is to us and to you, the anger of the gods 
would be [shared in] common." 


plain that both you and they have no knowledge of God. 
And that that God is not Jove, is evident by the very wrath, 
of the deities. 

36. But, says my opponent, the deities are not inimical to 
you, because you worship the omnipotent God ; but because 
you both allege that one born as men are, and put to death 
on the cross, which is a disgraceful punishment even for 
worthless men, was God, and because you believe that he 
still lives, and because you worship him in daily supplica- 
tions. If it is agreeable to you, my friends, state clearly 
what deities those are who believe that the worship of Christ 
by us has a tendency to injure them % Is it Janus, the 
founder of the Janiculum, and Saturn, the author of the 
Saturnian state ? Is it Fauna Fatua, 1 the wife of Faunus, 
who is called the Good Goddess, but who is better and more 
deserving of praise in the drinking of wine ? Is it those 
gods [Indigetes] who swim in the river, and live in the 
channels of the Numicius, in company with frogs and little 
fishes ? Is it ^Esculapius and father Bacchus, the former 
born of Coronis, and the other dashed by lightning from his 
mother's womb % Is it Mercury, son of Maia, and what is 
more divine, [Maia] the beautiful ? Is it the bow-bearing 
deities Diana and Apollo, who were companions of their 
mother's wanderings, and who were scarcely safe in float- 
ing islands % Is it Venus, daughter of Dione, paramour of 
a man of Trojan family, and the prostituter of her secret 
charms % Is it Ceres, born in Sicilian territory, and Proser- 
pine, surprised while gathering flowers ? Is it the Theban 
or the Phoenician Hercules, — the latter buried in Spanish 
territory, the other burned by fire on Mount (Eta ? Is it 
the brothers Castor and Pollux, sons of Tyndareus, — the 
one accustomed to tame horses, the other an excellent boxer, 
and unconquerable with the un tanned gauntlet % Is it the 
Titans and the Bocchores of the Moors, and the Syrian 2 

1 So Ursinus, followed by most edd., for the reading of the MS. 
Fenta Fatua, cf. v. 18. A later writer has corrected the MS. Fanda, 
which, Rigaltius says, an old gloss renders " mother." 

2 So restored by Salmasius for Dioscuri, and understood by him as 


deities, the offspring of eggs? Is it Apis, born in the 
Peloponnese, and in Egypt called Serapis ? Is it Isis, 
tanned by Ethiopian suns, lamenting her lost son and 
husband torn limb from limb ? Passing on, we omit the 
royal offspring of Opis, which your writers have in their 
books set forth for your instruction, telling you both who 
they are, and of what character. Do these, then, hear with 
offended ears that Christ is worshipped, and that he is 
accepted by us and regarded as a divine person ? And 
being forgetful of the grade and state in which they re- 
cently were, are they unwilling to share with another that 
which has been granted to themselves ? Is this the justice 
of the heavenly deities ? Is this the righteous judgment of 
the gods ? Is not this a kind of malice and of greed ? is it 
not a species of base envy, to wish their own fortunes only 
to rise, — those of others to be lowered, and to be trodden 
down in despised lowliness ? 

37. We worship one who was born a man. What then ? 
do you worship no one who was born a man ? Do you not 
worship one and another, aye, deities innumerable ? Nay, 
have you not taken from the number of mortals all those 
whom you now have in your temples ; and have you not 
set them in heaven, and among the constellations ? For 
if, perchance, it has escaped you that they once partook of 
human destiny, and of the state common to all men, search 
the most ancient literature, and range through the writings 
of those who, living nearest to the days of antiquity, set 
forth all things with undisguised truth and without flattery : 
you will learn in detail from what fathers, from what 
mothers they were each sprung, in what district they were 

meaning Dea Syria, i.e. Venus, because it is said that a large egg hav- 
ing been found by the fish in the Euphrates, was pushed up by them to 
the dry land, when a dove came down, and sat upon it until the goddess 
came forth. Such was the form of the legend according to Nigidius ; 
but Eratosthenes spoke of both Venus and Cupid as being produced in 
this manner. The Syrian deities were therefore Venus, Cupid, and 
perhaps Adonis. It should be remembered, however, that the Syrians 
paid reverence to pigeons and fish as gods (Xen. Anab. i. 4, 9), and that 
these may therefore be meant. 


born, of what tribe ; what they made, what they did, what 
they endured, how they employed themselves, what fortunes 
they experienced of an adverse or of a favourable kind in 
discharging their functions. But if, while you know that 
they were borne in the womb, and that they lived on the 
produce of the earth, you nevertheless upbraid us with the 
worship of one born like ourselves, you act with great in- 
justice, in regarding that as worthy of condemnation in us 
which you yourselves habitually do ; or what you allow to 
be lawful for you, you are unwilling to be in like manner 
lawful for others. 

38. But in the meantime let us grant, in submission to 
your ideas, that Christ was one of us — similar in mind, soul, 
body, weakness, and condition ; is he not worthy to be called 
and to be esteemed God by us, in consideration of his 
bounties, so numerous as they are ? For if you have placed 
in the assembly 1 of the gods Liber, because he discovered 
the use of wine ; Ceres, because she discovered the use of 
bread ; iEscuIapius, because he discovered the use of herbs ; 
Minerva, because she produced the olive ; Triptolemus, be- 
cause he invented the plough ; Hercules, because he over- 
powered and restrained wild beasts and robbers, and water- 
serpents of many heads, — with how great distinctions is he 
to be honoured by us, who, by instilling his truth into our 
hearts, has freed us from great errors ; who, when we were 
straying everywhere, as if blind and without a guide, with- 
drew us from precipitous and devious paths, and set our feet 
on more smooth places ; who has pointed out what is espe- 
cially profitable and salutary for the human race ; who has 
shown us what God is, 2 who he is, how great and how good ; 
who has permitted and taught us to conceive and to under- 
stand, as far as our limited capacity can, his profound and 
inexpressible depths ; who, in his great kindness, has caused 
it to be known by what founder, by what creator this world 
was established and made ; who has explained the nature of 

1 So all edd., except those of Hildebrand and Oehler, for the MS. cert- 
sum — "list." 

2 That is, that God is a Spirit. 


its origin x and essential substance, never before imagined in 
the conceptions of any ; whence generative warmth is added 
to the rays of the sun ; why the moon, always uninjured 2 in 
her motions, is believed to alternate her light and her obscu- 
rity from intelligent causes; 3 what is the origin of animals, 
what rules regulate seeds; who designed man himself, who 
fashioned him, or from what kind of material did he com- 
pact the very build of bodies ; what the perceptions are ; 
what the soul, and whether it flew to us of its own ac- 
cord, or whether it was generated and brought into exist- 
ence with our bodies themselves ; whether it sojourns with 
us, partaking of death, or whether it is gifted with an end- 
less immortality ; what condition awaits us when we shall 
have separated from our bodies relaxed in death; whether 
we shall retain our perceptions, 4 or have no recollection of 
our former sensations or of past memories; 5 who has re- 
strained 6 our arrogance, and has caused our necks, uplifted 
with pride, to acknowledge the measure of their weakness ; 
who hath shown that we are creatures imperfectly formed, 
that we trust in vain expectations, that we understand 

1 Orelli would refer these words to God ; he thinks that with those 
immediately following they may be understood of God's spiritual nature, 
— an idea which he therefore supposes Arnobius to assert had never 
been grasped by the heathen. 

2 So Gelenius, followed by Orelli and others, for the corrupt reading 
of the MS., idem ne quis ; but possibly both this and the preceding clause 
have crept into the text from the margin, as in construction they differ 
from the rest of the sentence, both that which precedes, and that which 

3 The phrase animalibus causis is regarded by commentators as equal 
to animatis causis, and refers to the doctrine of the Stoics, that in the 
sun, moon, stars, etc., there was an intelligent nature, or a certain 
impulse of mind, which directed their movements. 

4 Lit. " shall see" — visuri, the reading of the MS. ; changed in the first 
ed. and others to victuri — " shall live." 

5 Some have suggested a different construction of these words — memo- 
riam nullam nostri sensus ct recordationis habituri, thus — " have no memory 
of ourselves and senses of recollection ;" but that adopted above is sim- 
pler, and does not force the words as this seems to do. 

6 The MS. and 1st and 2d Roman edd. read, qui constringit — " who 


nothing thoroughly, that we know nothing, and that we 
do not see those things which are placed before our eyes ; 
who has guided us from false superstitions to the true reli- 
gion, — a blessing which exceeds and transcends all his other 
gifts ; who has raised our thoughts to heaven from brutish 
statues formed of the vilest clay, and has caused us to hold 
converse in thanksgiving and prayer with the Lord of the 

39. But lately, O blindness, I worshipped images produced 
from the furnace, gods made on anvils and by hammers, the 
bones of elephants, paintings, wreaths on aged trees; 1 when- 
ever I espied an anointed stone and one bedaubed w 7 ith olive 
oil, as if some power resided in it I worshipped it, I addressed 
myself to it and begged blessings from a senseless stock. 
And these very gods of whose existence I had convinced my- 
self, I treated with gross insults, when I believed them to be 
wood, stone, and bones, or imagined that they dwelt in the 
substance of such objects. Now, having been led into the 
paths of truth by so great a teacher, I know what all these 
things are, I entertain honourable thoughts concerning those 
which are worthy, I offer no insult to any divine name ; and 
what is due to each, whether inferior 2 or superior, I assign 
with clearly-defined gradations, and on distinct authority. Is 
Christ, then, not to be regarded by us as God? and is he, 
who in other respects may be deemed the very greatest, not 
to-be honoured with divine worship, from whom we have 
already received while alive so great gifts, and from whom, 
when the day comes, we expect greater ones ? 

40. But he died nailed to the cross. What is that to the 
argument % For neither does the kind and disgrace of the 
death change his words or deeds, nor will the w T eight of his 

1 It was a common practice with the Romans to hang the spoils of an 
enemy on a tree, which was thus consecrated to some deity. Hence 
such trees were sacred, and remained unhurt even to old age. Some 
have supposed that the epithet " old " is applied from the fact that the 
heathen used to offer to their gods objects no longer of use to them- 
selves ; thus it was only old trees, past bearing fruit, which were gene- 
rally selected to hang the spolia upon. 

2 Vel personx vel capiti. 


teaching appear less ; because he freed himself from the 
shackles of the body, not by a natural separation, but de- 
parted by reason of violence offered to him. Pythagoras 
of Samos was burned to death in a temple, under an unjust 
suspicion of aiming at sovereign power. Did his doctrines 
lose their peculiar influence, because he breathed forth his 
life not willingly, but in consequence of a savage assault ? 
In like manner Socrates, condemned by the decision of his 
fellow-citizens, suffered capital punishment : have his discus- 
sions on morals, on virtues, and on duties been rendered vain, 
because he was unjustly hurried from life ? Others without 
number, conspicuous by their renown, their merit, and their 
public character, have experienced the most cruel forms of 
death, as Aquilius, Trebonius, and Regulus : were they on 
that account adjudged base after death, because they perished 
not by the common law of the fates, but after being mangled 
and tortured in the most cruel kind of death? No inno- 
cent person foully slain is ever disgraced thereby; nor is 
he stained by the mark of any baseness, who suffers severe 
punishment, not from his own deserts, but by reason of the 
savage nature of his persecutor. 1 

41. And yet, O ye who laugh because we worship one 
who died an ignominious death, do not ye too, by conse- 
crating shrines to him, honour father Liber, who was torn 
limb from limb by the Titans ? Have you not, after his 
punishment and his death by lightning, named JEsculapius, 
the discoverer of medicines, as the guardian and protector 
of health, of strength, and of safety ? Do you not invoke 
the great Hercules himself by offerings, by victims, and by 
kindled frankincense, whom you yourselves allege to have 
been burned alive after his punishment, 2 and to have been 

1 So all the later edd. ; but in the MS., 1st and 2d Roman edd., and in 
those of Gelenius and Canterus, this clause reads, cruciatoris perpetitur 
sxvitatem — " but suffers the cruelty of his persecutor." 

2 The words post pcenas in the text are regarded as spurious by Orelli, 
who supposes them to have crept in from the preceding sentence ; but 
they may be defended as sufficiently expressing the agonies which Her- 
cules suffered through the fatal shirt of Nessus. 


consumed on the fatal pyres ? Do you not, with the unani- 
mous approbation of the Gauls, invoke as a propitious * and 
as a holy god, in the temples of the Great Mother, 2 that 
Phrygian Atys 3 who was mangled and deprived of his viri- 
lity ? Father Eomulus himself, who was torn in pieces by 
the hands of a hundred senators, do you not call Quirinus 
Martius, and do you not honour him with priests and with 
gorgeous couches, 4 and do you not worship him in most 
spacious temples ; and in addition to all this, do you not affirm 
that he has ascended into heaven? Either, therefore, you 
too are to be laughed at, who regard as gods men slain by 
the most cruel tortures ; or if there is a sure ground for your 
thinking that you should do so, allow us too to feel assured 
for what causes and on what grounds we do this. 

42. You worship one who was born a human being, [say 
my opponents]. Even if that were true, as has been already 
said in former passages, yet, in consideration of the many 
liberal gifts which he has bestowed on us, he ought to be 
called and be addressed as God. Since he is a God in reality 
and without any shadow of doubt, do you think that we will 
deny that he is worshipped by us with all the fervour we are 
capable of, and assumed as the guardian of our body ? Is 
that Christ of yours a god, then? some raving, wrathful, and 
excited man will say. A god, we will reply, and a god of the 
inner powers; 5 and — what may still further torture unbelievers 

1 The words deum propitium are indeed found in the MS., but accord- 
ing to Rigaltius are not in the same handwriting as the rest of the work. 

2 Cybele, whose worship was conjoined with that of Atys. 

3 So Orelli, but the MS. Attis. 

4 This refers to the practice of placing the images of the gods on pil- 
lows at feasts. In the temples there were pulvinaria, or couches, specially 
for the purpose. 

5 The phrase potentiarum interiorum is not easily understood. Orelli 
is of opinion that it means those powers which in the Bible are called 
the "powers of heaven," the "army of heaven," i.e. the angels. The 
Jews and the early fathers of the church divided the heaven into 
circles or zones, each inhabited by its peculiar powers or intelligent 
natures, differing in dignity and in might. The central place was 
assigned to God himself, and to Christ, who sat on his right hand, and 
who is called by the fathers of the church the " Angel of the Church," 



with the most bitter pains — he was sent to us by the King 
Supreme for a purpose of the very highest moment. My 
opponent, becoming more mad and more frantic, will per- 
haps ask whether the matter can be proved, as we allege. 
There is no greater proof than the credibility of the acts 
done by him, than the unwonted excellence of the virtues 
[he exhibited], than the conquest and the abrogation of all 
those deadly ordinances which peoples and tribes saw exe- 
cuted in the light of day, 1 with no objecting voice ; and even 
they whose ancient laws or whose country's laws he shows 
to be full of vanity and of the most senseless superstition, 
(even they) dare not allege these things to be false. 

43. My opponent will perhaps meet me with many other 
slanderous and childish charges which are commonly urged. 
Jesus was a Magian ; 2 he effected all these things by 
secret arts. From the shrines of the Egyptians he stole the 
names of angels of might, 3 and the religious system of a 
remote country. Why, O witlings, do you speak of things 
which you have not examined, and which are unknown to 
you, prating with the garrulity of a rash tongue ? Were, 
then, those things which were done, the freaks of demons, and 

and the " Angel of the New Covenant." Next in order came " Thrones," 
" Archangels," " Cherubim and Seraphim," and most remote from God's 
throne, the " Chorus of Angels," the tutelar genii of men. The system 
of zones and powers seems to have been derived from the Chaldeans, 
who made a similar division of the heavens. According to this idea, 
Arnobius speaks of Christ as nearest to the Father, and God of the 
" inner powers," who enjoyed God's immediate presence. Keference is 
perhaps made to some recondite doctrine of the Gnostics. It may mean, 
however, the more subtile powers of nature, as affecting both the souls of 
men and the physical universe. 

1 So Orelli with most edd., following Ursinus, for the MS. suo ge-ne- 
rt-B sub limine, which might, however, be retained, as if the sense were 
that these ordinances were coeval with man's origin, and translated, 
" tribes saw at the beginning of their race." 

2 Magus, almost equivalent to sorcerer. 

3 Arnobius uses nomina, u names," with special significance, because 
the Magi in their incantations used barbarous and fearful names of angels 
and of powers, by whose influence they thought strange and unusual 
things were brought to pass. 


the tricks of magical arts ! Can you specify and point out 
to me any one of all those magicians who have ever existed 
in past ages, that did anything similar, in the thousandth 
degree, to Christ ? Who has done this without any power 
of incantations, without the juice of herbs and of grasses, 
without any anxious watching of sacrifices, of libations, or 
of seasons ? For we do not press it, and inquire what they 
profess to do, nor in what kind of acts all their learning and 
experience are wont to be comprised. For who is not aware 
that these men either study to know beforehand things im- 
pending, which, whether they will or not, come of necessity 
as they have been ordained? or to inflict a deadly and 
wasting disease on whom they choose ; or to sever the affec- 
tions of relatives ; or to open without keys places which are 
locked ; or to seal the mouth in silence ; or in the chariot race 
to weaken, urge on, or retard horses ; or to inspire in wives, 
and in the children of strangers, whether they be males or 
females, the flames and mad desires of illicit love % 1 Or if 
they seem to attempt anything useful, to be able to do it 
not by their own power, but by the might of those deities 
whom they invoke. 

44. And yet it is agreed on that Christ performed all those 
miracles which he wrought without any aid from external 
things, without the observance of any ceremonial, without 
any definite mode of procedure, [but solely] by the inherent 
might of his authority ; and as was the proper duty of a true 
God, as was consistent with his nature, as was worthy of 
him, in the generosity of his bounteous power he bestowed 
nothing hurtful or injurious, but [only that which is] helpful, 
beneficial, and full of blessings good 2 for men. 

1 All these different effects the magicians of old attempted to produce : 
to break family ties by bringing plagues into houses, or by poisons ; open 
doors and unbind chains by charms (Orig. contra Cels. ii.) ; affect horses 
in the race (of which Hieronymus in his Life of Hilarion gives an 
example) ; and use philters and love potions to kindle excessive and 
unlawful desires. 

2 So Orelli and most edd., following a marginal reading of Ursinus, 
auxiliaribus plenum bonis (for the MS. nobis). 


45. What do you say again, oh you l ? Is he then 

a man, is he one of us, at whose command, at whose voice, 
raised in the utterance of audible and intelligible words, 2 in- 
firmities, diseases, fevers, and other ailments of the body fled 
away f Was he one of us, whose presence, whose very sight, 
that race of demons which took possession of men was unable 
to bear, and terrified by the strange power, fled away ? Was 
he one of us, to whose order the foul leprosy, at once checked, 
was obedient, and left sameness of colour to bodies formerly 
spotted ? Was he one of us, at whose light touch the issues 
of blood were stanched, and stopped their excessive flow ? 3 
Was he one of us, whose hands the waters of the lethargic 
dropsy fled from, and that searching 4 fluid avoided; and did 
the swelling body, assuming a healthy dryness, find relief % 
Was he one of us, who bade the lame run ? Was it his 
work, too, that the maimed stretched forth their hands, and 
the joints relaxed the rigidity 5 acquired even at birth ; that 
the paralytic rose to their feet, and persons now carried home 
their beds who a little before were borne on the shoulders of 
others ; the blind were restored to sight, and men born with- 
out eyes now looked on the heaven and the day ? 

46. Was he one of us, I say, who by one act of inter- 
vention at once healed a hundred or more afflicted with 
various infirmities and diseases; at whose word only the 
raging and maddened seas were still, the whirlwinds and 
tempests were lulled; who walked over the deepest pools 

1 In the height of his indignation and contempt, the writer stops short 
and does not apply to his opponents any new epithet. 

2 This is contrasted with the mutterings and strange words used by 
the magicians. 

3 So the MS. according to Oehler, and seemingly Heraldus ; but ac- 
cording to Orelli, the MS. reads immoderati (instead of — os) cohibebant 
Jluores, which Meursius received as equivalent to "the excessive flow 
stayed itself." 

4 Penetrabilis, " searching," i.e. finding its way to all parts of the 

5 So Orelli, LB., Elmenhorst, and Stewechius, adopting a marginal 
reading of Ursinus, which prefixes im — to the MS. mobilitales — " loose- 
ness" — retained by the other edd. 


with unwet foot ; who trod the ridges of the deep, the very- 
waves being astonished, and nature coming under bondage ; 
who with five loaves satisfied five thousand of his followers ; 
and who, lest it might appear to the unbelieving and hard of 
heart to be an illusion, filled twelve capacious baskets with 
the fragments that remained? Was he one of us, who 
ordered the breath that had departed to return to the body, 
persons buried to come forth from the tomb, and after 
three days to be loosed from the swathings of the under- 
taker 1 ? Was he one of us, who saw clearly in the hearts 
of the silent what each was pondering, 1 what each had in 
his secret thoughts ? Was he one of us, who, when he 
uttered a single word, was thought by nations far removed 
from one another and of different speech to be using well- 
known sounds, and the peculiar language of each ? 2 Was 
he one of us, who, when he was teaching his followers the 
duties of a religion that could not be gainsaid, suddenly filled 
the whole world, and showed how great he was and who he 
was, by unveiling the boundlessness of his authority? Was 
he one of us, who, after his body had been laid in the tomb, 
manifested himself in open day to countless numbers of 
men ; who spoke to them, and listened to them ; who taught 
them, reproved and admonished them ; who, lest they should 
imagine that they were deceived by unsubstantial fancies, 
showed himself once, a second time, aye frequently, in familiar 
conversation ; who appears even now to righteous men of 
unpolluted mind who love him, not in airy dreams, but in a 
form of pure simplicity ; 3 whose name, when heard, puts to 
flight evil spirits, imposes silence on soothsayers, prevents 
men from consulting the augurs, causes the efforts of arro- 
gant magicians to be frustrated, not by the dread of his name, 
as you allege, but by the free exercise of a greater power ? 

1 Cf . John ii. 25. 

2 No such miracle is recorded of Christ, and Oehler suggests with 
some probability that Arnobius may have here fallen into confusion as 
to what is recorded of the apostles on the day of Pentecost. 

3 The Latin is, per purse speciem simpUcitatis, which is not easily under- 
stood, and is less easily expressed. 


47. These facts set forth in summary we have put for- 
ward, not on the supposition that the greatness of the agent 
was to be seen in these virtues alone. For however great 
these things be, how excessively petty and trifling will they 
be found to be, if it shall be revealed from what realms 
he has come, of what God he is the minister! But with 
regard to the acts which were done by him, they were per- 
formed, indeed, not that he might boast himself in empty 
ostentation, but that hardened and unbelieving men might be 
assured that what was professed was not deceptive, and that 
they might now learn to imagine, from the beneficence of 
his works, what a true god was. At the same time we 
wish this also to be known, 1 when, as was said, an enumera- 
tion of his acts has been given in summary, that Christ was 
able to do not only those things which he did, but that he 
could even overcome the decrees of fate. For if, as is evi- 
dent, and as is agreed by all, infirmities and bodily sufferings, 
if deafness, deformity, and dumbness, if shrivelling of the 
sinews and the loss of sight happen to us, and are brought on 
us by the decrees of fate, and if Christ alone has corrected 
this, has restored and cured man, it is clearer than the sun 
himself that he was more powerful than the fates are when he 
has loosened and overpowered those things which were bound 
with everlasting knots, and fixed by unalterable necessity. 

48. But, says some one, you in vain claim so much for 
Christ, when we now know, and have in past times known, 
of other gods both giving remedies to many who were sick, 
and healing the diseases and the infirmities of many men. I 
do not inquire, I do not demand, what god did so, or at what 
time ; whom he relieved, or what shattered frame he restored 
to sound health : this only I long to hear, whether, without 
the addition of any substance — that is, of any medical appli- 
cation — he ordered diseases to fly away from men at a touch ; 
whether he commanded and compelled the cause of ill health 
to be eradicated, and the bodies of the weak to return to 
their natural strength. For it is known that Christ, either 

1 So almost all edd. ; but the MS. and 1st and 2d Roman edd. read 
scire — " to know," etc. 


by applying his hand to the parts affected, or by the com- 
mand of his voice only, opened the ears of the deaf, drove 
away blindness from the eyes, gave speech to the dumb, 
loosened the rigidity of the joints, gave the power of walking 
to the shrivelled, — was wont to heal by a word and by an 
order, leprosies, agues, dropsies, and all other kinds of ail- 
ments, which some fell power 1 has willed that the bodies 
of men should endure. What act like these have all 
those gods done, by whom you allege that help has been 
brought to the sick and the imperilled? for if they have 
at any time ordered, as is reported, either that medicine 
or a special diet be given to some, 2 or that a draught 
be drunk off, or that the juices of plants and of blades 
be placed 3 on that which causes uneasiness, or [have or- 
dered] that persons should walk, remain at rest, or abstain 
from something hurtful, — and that this is no great matter, 
and deserves no great admiration, is evident, if you will 
attentively examine it — a similar mode of treatment is fol- 
lowed by physicians also, a creature earth-born and not 
relying on true science, but founding on a system of conjec- 
ture, and wavering in estimating probabilities. Now there 
is no [special] merit in removing by remedies those ailments 
which affect men : the healing qualities belong to the drugs — 
not virtues inherent in him who applies them ; and though it 
is praiseworthy to know by what medicine or by what method 
it may be suitable for persons to be treated, there is room for 
this credit being assigned to man, but not to the deity. For 
it is [at least] no discredit that he 4 should have improved the 
health of man by things taken from without: it is a disgrace to 
a god that he is not able to effect it of himself, but that he 
gives soundness and safety [only] by the aid of external objects. 
49. And since you compare Christ and the other deities as 

1 See Bk. ii. chap. 36. 

2 The gods in whose temples the sick lay ordered remedies through 
the priests. 

3 So all edd. except LB., which reads with the MS. superponere — 
*' that [one] place the juices," etc 

4 That is, the physician. 


to the blessings of health bestowed, how many thousands of 
infirm persons do you wish to be shown to you by us ; how 
many persons affected with wasting diseases, whom no appli- 
ances whatever restored, although they went as suppliants 
through all the temples, although they prostrated themselves 
before the gods, and swept the very thresholds with their 
lips — though, as long as life remained, they wearied with 
prayers, and importuned with most piteous vows JEsculapius 
himself, the health-giver, as they call him? Do we not know 
that some died of their ailments ? that others grew old by the 
torturing pain of their diseases ? that others began to live a 
more abandoned life after they had wasted their days * and 
nights in incessant prayers, and in expectation of mercy? 2 
Of what avail is it, then, to point to one or another who 
may have been healed, when so many thousands have been 
left unaided, and the shrines are full of all the wretched and 
the unfortunate? Unless, perchance, you say that the gods 
help the good, but that the miseries of the wicked are over- 
looked. And yet Christ assisted the good and the bad alike ; 
nor was there any one rejected by him, who in adversity 
sought help against violence and the ills of fortune. For 
this is the mark of a true god and of kingly power, to deny 
his bounty to none, and not to consider who merits it or 
who does not ; since natural infirmity and not the choice of 
his desire, or of his sober judgment, makes a sinner. To 
say, moreover, that aid is given by the gods to the deserving 
when in distress, is to leave undecided and render doubtful 
what you assert : so that both he who has been made whole 
may seem to have been preserved by chance, and he who is 
not may appear to have been unable to banish infirmity, not be- 
cause of his demerit, but by reason of a heaven-sent weakness. 3 

1 So the edd., reading tri-v-erunt, for the MS. tri-bu-erunt — " given 
up," which is retained in the first ed. 

2 Pietatis, " of mercy," in which sense the word is often used in late 
writers. Thus it was from his clemency that Antoninus, the Koman 
emperor, received the title of Plus. 

3 So most edd., following a marginal reading of Ursinus, which pre- 
fixes in — to the MS. firmitate. 


50. Moreover, by his own power he not only performed 
those miraculous deeds which have been detailed by us in sum- 
mary, and not as the importance of the matter demanded ; 
but, what was more sublime, he has permitted many others 
to attempt them, and to perform them by the use of his 
name. For when he foresaw that you were to be the de- 
tractors of his deeds and of his divine work, in order that 
no lurking suspicion might remain of his having lavished 
these gifts and bounties by magic arts, from the immense 
multitude of people, which with admiring wonder strove to 
gain his favour, he chose fishermen, artisans, rustics, and 
unskilled persons of a similar kind, that they being sent 
through various nations should perform all those miracles with- 
out any deceit and without any material aids. By a word he 
assuaged the racking pains of the aching members ; and by 
a word they checked the writhings of maddening sufferings. 
By one command he drove demons from the body, and re- 
stored their senses to the lifeless ; they, too, by no different 
command, restored to health and to soundness of mind those 
labouring under the inflictions of these [demons]. 1 By the 
application of his hand he removed the marks of leprosy ; 
they, too, restored to the body its natural skin by a touch 
not dissimilar. He ordered the dropsical and swollen flesh 
to recover its natural dryness ; and his servants in the same 
manner stayed the wandering waters, and ordered them to 
glide through their own channels, avoiding injury to the 
frame. Sores of immense size, refusing to admit of healing, 
he restrained from further feeding on the flesh, by the inter- 
position of one word ; and they in like manner, by restricting 
its ravages, compelled the obstinate and merciless cancer to 
confine itself to a scar. To the lame he gave the power of 
walking, to the dark eyes sight, the dead he recalled to 

1 " They, too, . . . those labouring under the inflictions of these :" so 
LB., with the warm approval of Orelli (who, however, with previous 
edd., retains the MS. reading in his text) and others, reading sub eorum 
t-ortantes (for MS. p — ) et Mi se casibus ; Heraldus having suggested 
rotantes. This simple and elegant emendation makes it unnecessary to 
notice the harsh and forced readings of earlier edd. 


life ; and not less surely did they, too, relax the tightened 
nerves, fill the eyes with light already lost, and order the 
dead to return from the tombs, reversing the ceremonies of 
the funeral rites. Nor was anything calling forth the be- 
wildered admiration of all done by him, which he did not 
freely allow to be performed by those humble and rustic 
men, and which he did not put in their power. 

51. What say ye, O minds incredulous, stubborn, har- 
dened ? Did that great Jupiter Capitolinus of yours give 
to any human being power of this kind? Did he endow 
with this right any priest of a curia, the Pontifex Maxi- 
mus, nay, even the Dialis, in whose name he is [revealed 
as] the god of life? 1 I shall not say, [did he impart power] 
to raise the dead, to give light to the blind, restore the 
normal condition of their members to the weakened and 
the paralyzed, but [did he even enable any one] to check 
a pustule, a hangnail, a pimple, either by the word of his 
mouth or the touch of his hand ? Was this, then, a power 
natural to man, or could such a right be granted, could such 
a licence be given by the mouth of one reared on the vulgar 
produce of earth ; and was it not a divine and sacred gift? or 
if the matter admits of any hyperbole, was it not more than 
divine and sacred ? For if you do that which you are able 
to do, and what is compatible with your strength and your 
ability, there is no ground for the expression of astonishment ; 
for you will have done that which you were able, and which 
your power was bound to accomplish, in order that there 
should be a perfect correspondence 2 between the deed and 
the doer. To be able to transfer to a man your own power, 

1 So understood by Orelli, who reads quo Dius est, adopting the ex- 
planation of Dialis given by Festus. The MS., however, according to 
Crusius, reads, Dialem, quod ejus est, flaminem isto jure donavit; in which 
case, from the position of the quod, the meaning might be, "which 
[term] is his," or possibly, "because he (i.e. the priest) is his," only that 
in the latter case a pronoun would be expected: the commentators gene- 
rally refer it to the succeeding jure, with this " right," which is his. 
Canterus reads, quod majus est, i.e. than the Pontifex Maximus. 

2 So the MS. reading zequalitas, which is retained by Hild. and Oehler ; all 
other editions drop se — "that the quality of deed and doer might be one." 


share with the frailest being the ability to perform that which 
you alone are able to do, is a proof of power supreme over 
all 7 and holding in subjection the causes of all things, and the 
natural laws of methods and of means. 

52. Come, then, let some Magian Zoroaster 1 arrive from 
a remote part of the globe, crossing over the fiery zone, 2 if we 
believe Hermippus as an authority. Let these join him too 
— that Bactrian, whose deeds Ctesias sets forth in the first 
book of his History; the Armenian, grandson of Hosthanes; 3 
and Pamphilus, the intimate friend of Cyrus ; Apollonius, 
Damigero, and Dardanus ; Velus, Julianus, and Bsebulus ; 
and if there be any other one who is supposed to have especial 
powers and reputation in such magic arts. Let them grant 
to one of the people to adapt the mouths of the dumb for the 
purposes of speech, to unseal the ears of the deaf, to give the 
natural powers of the eye to those born without sight, and 
to restore feeling and life to bodies long cold in death. Or 
if that is [too] difficult, and if they cannot impart to others 

1 This passage has furnished occasion for much discussion as to text 
and interpretation. In the text Orelli's punctuation has been followed, 
who regards Arnobius as mentioning four Zoroasters — the Assyrian or 
Chaldaean, the Bactrian (cf. c. 5 of this book), the Armenian, and 
finally the Pamphylian, or Pamphilos, who, according to Clem. Alex. 
{Strom, v. p. 598), is referred to in Plato's Republic, Bk. x., under the 
name Er ; Meursius and Salmasius, however, regarding the whole as 
one sentence, consider that only three persons are so referred to, the 
first being either Libyan or Bactrian, and the others as with Orelli. 
To seek to determine which view is most plausible even, would be a 
fruitless task, as will be evident on considering what is said in the index 
under Zoroaster. 

2 So Orelli, reading veniat qu-is su-per igneam zonam. LB. reads for 
the second and third words, quse-so per — " let there come, I pray you, 
through," etc., from the MS. quse super ; while Heraldus would change 
the last three words into Azonaces, the name of the supposed teacher of 
Zoroaster. By the "fiery zone" Salmasius would understand Libya ; but 
the legends should be borne in mind which spoke of Zoroaster as having 
shown himself to a wondering multitude from a hill blazing with fire, 
that he might teach them new ceremonies of worship, or as being other- 
wise distinguished in connection with fire. 

3 So Stewechius, Orelli, and others, for the MS. Zostriani — " grandson 
of Zostrianus," retained in the 1st ed. and LB. 



the power to do such acts, let themselves perform them, and 
with their own rites. Whatever noxious herbs the earth 
brings forth from its bosom, whatever powers those muttered 
words and accompanying spells contain — these let them add. 
we envy them not ; [those] let them collect, we forbid them 
not. We wish to make trial and to discover whether they 
can effect, with the aid of their gods, what has often been 
accomplished by unlearned Christians with a word only. 

53. Cease in your ignorance to receive such great deeds 
with abusive language, which will in no wise injure him who 
did them, but which will bring danger to yourselves — danger, 
I say, by no means small, but one dealing with matters of 
great, 1 aye, even the greatest importance, since beyond a doubt 
the soul is a precious thing, and nothing can be found dearer 
to a man than himself. There was nothing magical, as you 
suppose, nothing human, delusive, or crafty in Christ ; no 
deceit lurked in him, 2 although you smile in derision, as your 
wont is, and though you split with roars of laughter. He 
was God on high, God in his inmost nature, God from 
unknown realms, and was sent by the Ruler of all as a 
Saviour God ; whom neither the sun himself, nor any stars, 
if they have powers of perception, not the rulers and princes 
of the world, nor, in fine, the great gods, or those who, 
feigning themselves so, terrify the whole human race, were 
able to know or to guess whence and who he was — and 
naturally so. But 3 when, freed from the body, which he 
carried about as but a very small part of himself, he allowed 
himself to be seen, and [let it be known] how great he was, 
all the elements of the universe bewildered by the strange 
events were thrown into confusion. An earthquake shook 

1 So the edd., reading in rebus eximiis for the MS. exi-gu-is, which 
would, of course, give an opposite and wholly unsuitable meaning. 

2 So generally, Heraldus having restored clelitu-it in Christo from the 
MS., which had omitted -it, for the reading of Gelenius, Canterus, and 
Ursinus, delicti — " no deceit, no sin [was]," etc. 

3 So emended by Salmasius, followed by most later edd. In the 
earlier edd. the reading is et merito exutus a corpore (Salm. reading at 
instead of a, and inserting a period after mer.) — " and when rightly 
freed from the body," etc. 


the world, the sea was heaved up from its depths, the heaven 
was shrouded in darkness, the sun's fiery blaze was checked, 
and his heat became moderate ; x for what else could occur 
when he was discovered to be God who heretofore was 
reckoned one of us ? 

54. But you do not believe these things ; yet those who 
witnessed their occurrence, and who saw them done before 
their eyes — the very best vouchers and the most reliable 
authorities — both believed them themselves, and transmitted 
them to us who follow them to be believed with no scanty 
measure of confidence. Who are these? you perhaps ask. 
Tribes, peoples, nations, and that incredulous human race ; 
but 2 if the matter were not plain, and, as the saying is, 
clearer than day itself, they would never grant their assent 
with so ready belief to events of such a kind. But shall we 
say that the men of that time were untrustworthy, false, 
stupid, and brutish to such a degree that they pretended to 
have seen what they never had seen, and that they put forth 
under false evidence, or alleged with childish asseveration 
things which never took place, and that when they were 
able to live in harmony and to maintain friendly relations 
with you, they wantonly incurred hatred, and were held in 
execration ? 

55. But if this record of events is false, as you say, how 
comes it that in so short a time the whole world has been 
filled with such a religion ! or how could nations dwelling 
widely apart, and separated by climate and by the con- 
vexities of heaven, 3 unite in one conclusion? They have 
been prevailed upon [say my opponents] by mere assertions, 
been led into vain hopes ; and in their reckless madness 
have chosen to incur voluntarily the risks of death, although 
they had hitherto seen nothing of such a kind as could by 

1 It may be instructive to notice how the simpler narrative of the 
Gospels is amplified. Matthew (xxvii. 51) says that the earth trembled, 
and Luke (xxiii. 45) that the sun was darkened ; but they go no 

2 Or, " which if . . . itself, would never," etc. 

8 That is, by the climate and the inclination of the earth's surface. 


its wonderful and strange character induce them to adopt 
this manner of worship. Nay, because they saw all these 
things to be done by [Christ] himself and by his apostles, 
who being sent throughout the whole world carried with 
them the blessings of the Father, which they dispensed in 
benefiting 1 as well the minds as the bodies of men; over- 
come by the force of the very truth itself they both devoted 
themselves to God, and reckoned it as but a small sacrifice 
to surrender their bodies to you and to give their flesh to 
be mangled. 

56. But our writers [we shall be told] have put forth 
these statements with false effrontery; they have extolled 2 
small matters to an inordinate degree, and have magnified 
trivial affairs with most pretentious boastfulness. And 3 
would that all things could have been reduced to writing, — 
both those which were done by himself, and those which were 
accomplished by his apostles with equal authority and power. 
Such an assemblage of miracles, however, would make you 
more incredulous ; and perhaps you might be able to discover 
a passage from which 4 it would seem very probable, both that 
additions were made to facts, and that falsehoods were inserted 
in writings and commentaries. But in nations which were 
unknown to the writers, and which themselves knew not the 
use of letters, all that was done could not have been embraced 
in the records or even have reached the ears of all men ; or, 
if any were committed to written and connected narrative, 
some insertions and additions would have been made by the 
malevolence of the demons and of men like to them, whose 

1 So the 1st ed., Ursinus, Elmenhorst, Orelli, and Hildebrand, read- 
ing munerandis, which is found in the MS. in a later handwriting, for 
the original reading of the MS. munera dis. 

2 According to Rigaltius the MS. reads ista promiserunt in immensum — 
" have put forth (i.e. exaggerated) these things to an immense degree 
falsely, small matters and trivial affairs have magnified," etc.; while 
by a later hand has been superscribed over in immensum, in ink of a 
different colour, extulere — u have extolled." 

3 So the MS., 1st ed., and Hildebrand, while all others read atqu-i — 

4 So LB., reading quo for the MS. quod. 


care and study it is to obstruct * the progress of this truth : 
there would have been some changes and mutilations of words 
and of syllables, at once to mar the faith of the cautious and 
to impair the moral effect of the deeds. But it will never avail 
them that it be gathered from written testimony [only] who 
and what Christ was ; for his cause has been put on such a 
basis, that if what we say be admitted to be true, he is by 
the confession of all proved to have been God. 

57. You do not believe our writings, and we do not believe 
yours. We devise falsehoods concerning Christ [you say] ; 
and you put forth baseless and false statements concerning 
your gods : for no god has descended from heaven, or in his 
own person and life has sketched out your system, or in a 
similar way thrown discredit on our system and our cere- 
monies. These were written by men ; those, too, were 
written by men — set forth in human speech ; and whatever 
you seek to say concerning our writers, remember that about 
yours, too, you will find these things said with equal force. 
What is contained in your writings you wish to be treated 
as true ; those things, also, which are attested in our books, 
you must of necessity confess to be true. You accuse our 
system of falsehood ; we, too, accuse yours of falsehood. But 
ours is more ancient, say you, therefore most credible and 
trustworthy; as if, indeed, antiquity were not the most fertile 
source of errors, and did not herself put forth those things 
which in discreditable fables have attached the utmost infamy 
to the gods. For could not falsehoods have been both spoken 
and believed ten thousand years ago, or is it not most pro- 
bable that that which is near to our own time should be more 
credible than that which is separated by a long term of 
years ? For these of ours are brought forward on the faith 
of witnesses, those of yours on the ground of opinions ; and 
it is much more natural that there should be less invention 
in matters of recent occurrence, than in those far removed 
in the darkness of antiquity. 

58. But they were written by unlearned and ignorant 

1 So most edd., reading intercip-ere for the MS. intercipi — "it is that 
the progress be obstructed," etc. 


men, and should not therefore be readily believed. See that 
this be not rather a stronger reason for believing that they 
have not been adulterated by any false statements, but were 
put forth by men of simple mind, who knew not how to 
trick out their tales with meretricious ornaments. But the 
language is mean and vulgar. For truth never seeks de- 
ceitful polish, nor in that which is well ascertained and 
certain does it allow itself to be led away into excessive pro- 
lixity. Syllogisms, enthymemes, definitions, and all those 
ornaments by which men seek to establish their statements, 
aid those groping for the truth, but do not clearly mark its 
great features. But he who really knows the subject under 
discussion, neither defines, nor deduces, nor seeks the other 
tricks of words by which an audience is wont to be taken in, 
and to be beguiled into a forced assent to a proposition. 

59. Your narratives, my opponent says, are overrun with 
barbarisms and solecisms, and disfigured by monstrous blun- 
ders. A censure, truly, which shows a childish and petty 
spirit ; for if we allow that it is reasonable, let us cease to 
use certain kinds of fruit because they grow with prickles on 
them, and other growths useless for food, which on the one 
hand cannot support us, and yet do not on the other binder 
us from enjoying that which specially excels, and which 
nature has designed to be most wholesome for us. For how, 
I pray you, does it interfere with or retard the compre- 
hension [of a statement], whether anything be pronounced 
smoothly 1 or with uncouth roughness'? whether that have the 
grave accent which ought to have the acute, or that have 
the acute which ought to have the grave ? Or how is the 
truth of a statement diminished, if an error is made in 
number or case, in preposition, participle, or conjunction ? 
Let that pomposity of style and strictly regulated diction be 
reserved for public assemblies, for lawsuits, for the forum 
and the courts of justice, and by all means be handed over 
to those who, striving after the soothing influences of pleasant 
sensations, bestow all their care upon splendour of language. 

1 So Orelli and Hildcbrand, reading glahre from a conjecture of Gro- 
tins, for the MS. grave. 


[But] when we are discussing matters far removed from 
mere display, we should consider what is said, not with what 
charm it is said nor how it tickles the ears, but what benefits 
it confers on the hearers, especially since we know that some 
even who devoted themselves to philosophy, not only disre- 
garded refinement of style, but also purposely adopted a 
vulgar meanness when they might have spoken with greater 
elegance and richness, lest forsooth they might impair the 
stern gravity of speech and revel rather in the pretentious 
show of the Sophists. For indeed it evidences a worthless 
heart to seek enjoyment in matters of importance ; and when 
you have to deal with those who are sick and diseased, to 
pour into their ears dulcet sounds, not to apply a remedy to 
their wounds. Yet, if you consider the true state of the 
case, no language is naturally perfect, and in like manner 
none is faulty. For what natural reason is there, or what 
law written in the constitution of the world, that paries 
should be called hie 1 and sella hwc? — since neither have 
they sex distinguished by male and female, nor can the most 
learned man tell me what hie and hcec are, or why one of 
them denotes the male sex while the other is applied to the 
female. These conventionalities are man's, and certainly 
are not indispensable to all persons for the use of forming 
their language ; for paries might perhaps have been called 
ha?Cj and sella hie, without any fault being found, if it had 
been agreed upon at first that they should be so called, and 
if this practice had been maintained by following generations 
in their daily conversation. And yet, O you who charge 
our writings with disgraceful blemishes, have you not these 
solecisms in those most perfect and wonderful books of yours ! 
Does not one of you make the plur. of uter, utria f another 
utres V [and do you not write] coelus and ccelum, fllus and 
Jllum, crocus and crocum, fretus and frelum? Do you not 
also say hoc pane and hie panis, hie sanguis and hoc sanguen f 
Are not candelabrum and jugulum in like manner written 
jugulus and candelaber? For if each noun cannot have 

1 i.e. that the one should be masculine, the other feminine. 

2 i.e. does not one of you make the plural of liter masc., another neut. ? 



more than one gender, and if the same word cannot be of 
this gender and of that (for one gender cannot pass into 
the other), he commits as great a blunder who utters mas- 
culine genders under the laws of feminines, as he who 
applies masculine articles to feminine genders. And yet we 
see you using masculines as feminines, and feminines as mas- 
culines, and those which you call neuter both in this way 
and in that, without any distinction. Either, therefore, it is 
no blunder to employ them indifferently, and [in that case] 
it is vain for you to say that our works are disfigured with 
monstrous solecisms ; or if the way in which each ought to 
be employed is unalterably fixed, you also are involved in 
similar errors, although you have on your side all the Epi- 
cadi, Caesellii, Verrii, Scauri, and Nisi. 

60. But, say my opponents, if Christ was God, why did 
he appear in human shape, and why was he cut off by death 
after the manner of men ? Could that power which is in- 
visible, and which has no bodily substance, have come upon 
earth and adapted itself to the world and mixed in human 
society, otherwise than by taking to itself some covering of a 
more solid substance, which might bear the gaze of the eyes, 
and on which the look of the least observant might fix it- 
self ? For what mortal is there who could have seen him, 
who could have distinguished him, if he had decreed to come 
upon the earth such as lie is in his own primitive nature, 
and such as he has chosen to be in his own proper character 
and divinity? He took upon him, therefore, the form of 
man; and under the guise of our race he imprisoned his 
power, so that he could be seen and carefully regarded, 
might speak and teach, and without encroaching on the 
sovereignty and government of the King Supreme, might 
carry out all those objects for the accomplishment of which 
he had come into the world. 

61. What, then, says [my opponent], could not the Supreme 
Euler have brought about those things which he had ordained 
to be done in the world, without feigning himself a man ? If 
it were necessary to do as you say, he perhaps would have 
done so ; because it was not necessary, he acted otherwise. 


The reasons why he chose to do it in this way, and did 
not choose to do it in that, are unknown, being involved 
in so great obscurity, and comprehensible by scarcely any ; 
but these you might perhaps have understood if you were 
not already prepared not to understand, and were not shaping 
your course to brave unbelief, before that was explained to 
you which you sought to know and to hear. 

62. But [you will say] he was cut off by death as men 
are. Not [Christ] himself ; for it is impossible either that 
death should befall what is divine, or that that should waste 
away and disappear in death which is one [in its substance], 
and not compounded, nor formed by bringing together any 
parts. Who, then [you ask], was seen hanging on the cross? 
Who dead? The human form, 1 [I reply], which he had 
put on, 2 and which he bore about with him. It is a tale 
passing belief, [you say], and wrapt in dark obscurity; if 
you will, it is not dark, and [is] established by a very close 
analogy. 3 If the Sibyl, when she was uttering and pouring 
forth her prophecies and oracular responses, was filled, as you 
say, with Apollo's power, had been cut down and slain by 
impious robbers, 4 would Apollo be said to have been slain in 
her ? If Bacis, 5 if Helenus, Marcius, 6 and other soothsayers, 
had been in like manner robbed of life and light when raving 
as inspired, would any one say that those who, speaking by 

1 So the MS., followed by Hildebrand and Oeliler, reads and punctu- 
ates quis mortuus? homo, for which all edd. read mortuus est? "Who 

2 Here, as in the whole discussion in the second book on the origin 
and nature of the soul, the opinions expressed are Gnostic, Cerinthus 
saying more precisely that Christ having descended from heaven in the 
form of a dove, dwelt in the body of Jesus during his life, but removed 
from it before the crucifixion. 

3 So the MS. by changing a single letter, with LB. and others, simili- 
tudine proxim-a (MS. o) constitutum; while the first ed., Gelenius, Can- 
terus, Ursinus, Orelli, and others, read '-dm proxime—" settled very 
closely to analogy." 

4 In the original latronibus ; here, as in the next chapter, used loosely 
to denote lawless men. 

5 So emended by Mercerus for the MS. vatis. 

6 So read in the MS.— not -tins, as in LB. and Orelli 


their mouths, declared to inquirers what should be done, 1 had 
perished according to the conditions of human life ? The 
death of which you speak was [that] of the human body 
which he had assumed, 2 not his own — of that which was borne, 
not of the bearer ; and not even this [death] would he 8 have 
stooped to suffer, were it not that a matter of such import- 
ance was to be dealt with, and the inscrutable plan of fate 4 
brought to light in hidden mysteries. 

63. What are these hidden and unseen mysteries, you will 
say, which neither men can know, nor those even who are 
called gods of the world can in any wise reach by fancy and 
conjecture ; [which] none [can discover], 5 except those whom 
[Christ] himself has thought fit to bestow the blessing of so 
great knowledge upon, and to lead into the secret recesses of 
the inner treasury [of wisdom] ? Do you then see that if 
he had determined that none should do him violence, he 
should have striven to the utmost to keep off from him his 
enemies, even by directing his power against them ? G Could 
not he [then], who had restored their sight to the blind, make 
[his enemies] blind if it were necessary ? Was it hard or 
troublesome for him to make them weak, who [had given] 
strength to the feeble ? Did he who bade 7 the lame walk, 

1 Lit., " the ways of things"— vias rerum. 

2 The MS. reads unintelligibly assumptl-o hominis fait, which was, 
however, retained in both Roman edd., although Ursinus suggested 
the dropping of the o, which has been done by all later edd. 

3 The MS. reads, quam nee ipsam perpeti succubuisset vis — " would his 
might," i.e. "would he with his great power have stooped." Orelli 
simply omits vis as Canterus, and seemingly the other later edd. do. 

4 The MS. and 1st ed. read satis, which has clearly arisen from /being 
confounded with the old form of s. 

5 The construction is a little involved, quse nulli nee homines scire nee 
ipsi qui appellantur dii mundi queunt — "which none, neither men can 
know, nor those .... of the world can reach, except those whom," etc. 

6 In the Latin, vel potestate inversa, which according to Oehler is the 
MS. reading, while Orelli speaks of it as an emendation of LB. (where 
it is certainly found, but without any indication of its source), and with 
most edd. reads universa—" by his universal power." 

7 So the MS. according to Hildebrand, reading prsccipi-lat. Most edd., 
however, following Gelenius, read faciebat — "made them lame." 


not know how to take from them all power to move their 
limbs, 1 by making their sinews stiff 1 2 Would it have been 
difficult for him who drew the dead from their tombs to in- 
flict death on whom he would ? But because reason required 
that those things which had been resolved on should be done 
here also in the world itself, and in no other fashion than was 
done, he, with gentleness passing understanding and belief, 
regarding as but childish trifles the wrongs which men did 
him, submitted to the violence of savage and most hardened 
robbers; 3 nor did he think it worth while to take account 
of what their daring had aimed at, if he only showed to his 
[disciples] what they were in duty bound to look for from 
him. For when many things about the perils of souls, 
many evils about their . . . . ; on the other hand, the intro- 
ducer, 4 the master and teacher directed his laws and ordi- 
nances, that they might find their end in fitting duties ; 5 did 
he not destroy the arrogance of the proud ! Did he not 
quench the fires of lust ? Did he not check the craving of 
greed? Did he not wrest the weapons from their hands, 
and rend from them all the sources 6 of every [form of] 
corruption ? To conclude, was he not himself gentle, peace- 

3 Lit., "to bind fast the motions of the members," adopting the read- 
ing of most edd., motus alligare membrorum (ms. c-al-igare). 

2 The MS. reads nervorum duritia-m, for which Ursinus, with most edd., 
reads as above, merely dropping m ; Hildebrand and Oehler insert in, 
and read, from a conjecture of Ursinus adopted by Elmenhorst, c-ol-Ugare 
— " to bind into stiffness." 

3 Ursinus suggested di- (" most terrible") for the MS. durisslmis. 

4 So the MS. reading, multa mala de illarum contra insinuator (mala is 
perhaps in the abl., agreeing with a lost word), which has been regarded 
by Heraldus and Stewechius, followed by Orelli, as mutilated, and is so 
read in the first ed., and by Ursinus and LB. The passage is in all 
cases left obscure and doubtful, and we may therefore be excused dis- 
cussing its meaning here. 

5 Lit., " to the ends of fitting duties." 

6 In the original, seminaria abscidit, — the former word used of nur- 
series for plants, while the latter may be either as above (from abscindo), 
or may mean "cut off" (from abscido) ■ but in both cases the gene- 
ral meaning is the same, and the metaphor is in either slightly con- 


ful, easily approached, friendly when addressed V- Did he 
not, grieving at men's miseries, pitying with his unexampled 
benevolence all in any wise afflicted with troubles and bodily 
ills, 2 bring them back and restore them to soundness ? 

64. What, then, constrains you, what excites you to revile, 
to rail at, to hate implacably him whom no man 3 can accuse 
of any crime? 4 Tyrants and your kings, who, putting away 
[all] fear of the gods, plunder and pillage the treasuries of 
temples; who by proscription, banishment, 5 and slaughter, 
strip the state of its nobles ; who, with licentious violence, 
undermine and wrest away the chastity of matrons and 
maidens, — [these men] you name indigites and divi; and 
you worship with couches, altars, temples, and other ser- 
vice, and by celebrating their games and birthdays, those 
whom it was fitting that you should assail with keenest 6 
hatred. And all those, too, who by writing books assail in 
many forms with biting reproaches public manners ; who 
censure, brand, and tear in pieces your luxurious habits and 
lives ; who carry down to posterity evil reports of their own 
times 7 in their enduring writings ; who [seek to] persuade 
[men] that the rights of marriage should be held in common ; 8 
who lie with boys, beautiful, lustful, naked ; who declare that 

1 Lit., "familiar to be accosted," — the supine, as in the preceding clause. 

2 So the edd., reading corporalibus affectos malis, hut the ms. inserts 
after malis the word morbis (" with evil bodily diseases") ; but accord- 
ing to Hildebrand this word is marked as spurious. 

3 So the edd., reading nemo h-om-i-n-um, except Hildebrand and 
Oehler, who retain the MS. om-n-i-um — " no one of all." 

4 John viii. 46 : " Which of you convinceth me of sin ? " 

5 So Heraldus and LB., followed by later edd., reading exilils for the 
MS. ex-vis, for which Gelenius, Canterus, and Ursinus read et suis — 
" and by their slaughters." 

6 Here, as frequently in Arnobius, the comparative is used instead of 
the superlative. 

7 " To posterity evil reports of their own time" — sui temporis poster is 
notas — so emended by Ursinus, followed by Orelli and Hildebrand, for 
the MS. in temporis posteri-s, retained by LB., and with the omission of s m 
the first ed. ; but this requires our looking on the passage as defective. 

8 The reference is clearly to the well-known passage in Plato's Republic, 
st. p. 457. 


you are beasts, runaways, exiles, and mad and frantic slaves 
of the most worthless character, — [all these] with wonder and 
applause you exalt to the stars of heaven, you place in the 
shrines of your libraries, you present with chariots and statues, 
and as much as in you lies, gift with a kind of immortality, 
as it were, by the witness which immortal titles bear to them. 
Christ alone you would tear in pieces, 1 you would rend asunder, 
if you could [do so to] a god ; nay, [him alone] you would, 
were it allowed, gnaw with bloody mouths, and break his bones 
in pieces, and devour him like beasts of the field. For what 
that he has done, tell, I pray you, for what crime? 2 What 
has he done to turn aside the course of justice, and rouse 
you to hatred made fierce by maddening torments ? [Is it] 
because he declared that he was sent by the only [true] King 
[to be] your soul's guardian, and to bring to you the immor- 
tality which you believe that you [already] possess, relying 
on the assertions of a few men ? But [even] if you were 
assured that he spoke falsely, that he even held out hopes 
without the slightest foundation, not even in this case do I 
see [any] reason that you should hate [and] condemn him 
with bitter reproaches. Nay, if you were kind and gentle in 
spirit, you ought to esteem him even for this alone, that he 
promised to you things which you might well wish and hope 
for ; that he was the bearer of good news ; that his message 
was such as to trouble no one's mind, nay, rather to fill [all] 
with less anxious expectation. 3 

65. Oh ungrateful and impious age, prepared 4 for its own 

1 So Gelenius, LB., and Orelli, reading con-v-ell-e-re for the MS. con- 
p-ell-a-re, " to accost " or " abuse," which is out of place here. Canterus 
suggested com-p-il-are, "to plunder," which also occurs in the sense 
" to cudgel." 

2 Supply, "do you pursue him so fiercely?" 

3 These words are followed in the edition of Gelenius by ch. 2-5 of 
the second book, seemingly without any mark to denote transposition ; 
while Ursinus inserted the same chapters — beginning, however, with the 
last sentence of the first chapter (read as mentioned in the note on it) — 
but prefixed an asterisk, to mark a departure from the order of the MS. 
The later editors have not adopted either change. 

4 So Ursinus suggested in the margin, followed by LB. and Orelli, 


destruction by its extraordinary obstinacy ! If there had 
come to you a physician from lands far distant and unknown 
to you before, offering some medicine to keep off from you 
altogether every kind of disease and sickness, would you not 
all eagerly hasten to [him]? Would you not with every 
kind of flattery and honour receive him into your houses, and 
treat him kindly ? Would you not wish that that kind of 
medicine should be quite reliable, should be genuine, which 
promised that even to the utmost limits of life you should be 
free from such countless bodily distresses ? And though it 
were a doubtful matter, you would yet entrust yourselves [to 
him] ; nor would you hesitate to drink the unknown draught, 
incited by the hope of health set before you and by the 
love of safety. 1 Christ shone out and appeared to tell us 
news of the utmost importance, bringing an omen of pro- 
sperity, and a message of safety to those who believe. What, 
I pray you, means 2 this cruelty, what such barbarity, nay 
rather, to speak more truly, scornful 3 pride, not only to 
harass the messenger and bearer of so great a gift with 
taunting words ; but even to assail him with fierce hostility, 
and with all the weapons which can be showered upon him, 
and [with all modes of] destruction ? Are his words displeas- 
ing, and are you offended when you hear them ? Count them 
as [but] a soothsayer's empty tales. Does he speak very 
stupidly, and promise foolish gifts? Laugh with scorn as 
wise men, and leave [him in] his folly 4 to be tossed about 
among his errors. What means this fierceness (to repeat 
what has been said more than once) ; what a passion, so 
murderous? to declare implacable hostility towards one who 

reading in privatam perniciem p-a-r-atum for the MS. p-r-iv-atum, which 
is clearly derived from the preceding privatam, but is, though unintel- 
ligible also, retained in the two Roman edd. The conclusion of the 
sentence is, literally, "obstinacy of spirit." 

1 In the original, rpe salutis proposita atque amore incolumitatis. 

2 Lit., " is "—est. 

3 So all the edd., reading fastidi-os-wn supercilium, which Crusius says 
the MS. reads with os omitted, i.e. " pride, scorn." 

4 So the edd., reading fatuita-tem, for the MS. fatuita-?i-tem, which 
may, however, point to a verb not found elsewhere. 


has done nothing to deserve it at your hands ; to wish, if it 
were allowed you, to tear him limb from limb, who not only did 
no man any harm, but with uniform kindness 1 told his enemies 
what salvation was being brought to them from God Supreme, 
what must be done that they might escape destruction and 
obtain an immortality which they knew not of ? And when 
the strange and unheard-of things which were held out 
staggered the minds of those who heard him, and made them 
hesitate to believe, [though] master of every power and 
destroyer of death itself he suffered his human form to be 
slain, that from the result 2 they might know that the hopes 
were safe which they had long entertained about the soul's 
salvation, and that in no other way could they avoid the 
danger of death. 

1 i.e. to friends and foes alike. The MS. reads sequaliter benignus hosti- 
bus dicere, which is retained by Orelli, supposing an ellipsis oifuerit, i.e. 
" [he was] kind to say," which might be received ; but it is more natural 
to suppose that -t has dropped off, and read dicer et as above, with 
the two Eoman editions and LB. Gelenius, followed by Ursinus, 
emended omnibus docuerit — "with uniform kindness taught to all." It 
may be well to give here an instance of the very insufficient grounds on 
which supposed references to Scripture are sometimes based. Orelli 
considers that Arnobius here refers (videtur respexisse, he says) to Col. i. 
21, 22, "You, that were sometimes alienated and enemies in mind by 
wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh 
through death," to which, though the words which follow might indeed 
be thought to have a very distant resemblance, they can in no way be 
shown to refer. 

2 i.e. from his resurrection, which showed that death's power was 
broken by him. 



The question is again asked, "Why is Christ so bitterly hated, while it 
cannot be said that he ever injured any one (1) ? Because, an opponent 
is supposed to reply, he drove religion from the earth by withholding 
men from worshipping the gods. In this, however, it is shown that he 
did not assail, but built up religion, as he taught men to worship the 
creator and source of all things, God supreme, the worship of whom is 
surely the truest religion (2, 3). It is declared to be mere folly in the 
heathen to disbelieve Christ's message, for the future alone can prove or 
disprove the truth of what is foretold; but when there are the two 
prospects, that if Christ's words are false, his followers lose nothing 
more than others, but that, on the other hand, if he spoke truly, those 
who refuse to believe in him suffer an infinite loss, it is more rational 
to choose the course which tends to no evil and may lead to blessing, 
rather than that which it is certain leads to no good, and may bring us 
to terrible woe (4, 5). Is the truth of Christianity not manifested, he 
goes on to ask, in the readiness with which it has been received by men 
of every class in all parts of the world, and by the noble constancy 
with which so many have endured suffering even to death, rather than 
abandon or dishonour it (5) ? And if, as was often the case, any one 
should say that there were indeed many who received Christ's gospel, but 
that these were silly and stupid people, Arnobius reminds him that learn- 
ing and grammatical knowledge alone do not fit a man to decide between 
truth and falsehood, to say what may and what cannot take place (6) ; 
and this is shown by the uncertainty and confusion which surround even 
those matters which force themselves on our notice every day, such as 
the nature and origin of man, the end of his being, the mode in which he 
was quickened into life, and many other similar questions (7). Moreover, 
the heathen laughed at the faith of the Christians ; but in doing so, 
Arnobius asks, did they not expose themselves to ridicule ? For does not 
the whole conduct of life depend on the belief that the end will corre- 
spond to our aims and actions (8) ? Again, most men put faith in one 
or other of the leading philosophers (9) ; and these, in turn, trust their 
own fancies, and put faith in their own theories, so that faith is common 
to all men alike (10). And if the heathen put faith in the philosophers, 
the Christians have no less reason to put faith in Christ ; while, if a 
comparison be entered into, no other can point to such wonderful powers 
and such marvellous deeds as are recorded of him (11). Not by such 



subtle quibbling as men brought against it did the new religion make its 
way, but by the marvellous and unheard-of miracles which attested its 
truth, so that it won followers among all tribes on the face of the earth; 
and if any man was ignorant of these facts, it was because he had not 
chosen to know them, and had suffered the truth to be obscured by 
those interested in upholding error (12). Arnobius goes on to show 
that many Christian doctrines which were ridiculed as such by the 
heathen, were held by the philosophers also ; referring more particularly 
to the worship of one God, the resurrection of the dead (13), and the 
quenchless fires of punishment, from which he takes occasion to point 
out that man's true death comes not at, but after the soul's separation 
from the body, and to discuss the nature of the soul (14). The soul is 
not, he maintains, immortal in itself, or of divine origin — if it were born 
of God, men would be pure and holy, and of one opinion (15) — but has 
been made vicious and sinful by causes to be found in the world ; while, 
if it had been made by the supreme God, how could his work have been 
marred by that which was less powerful (16) ? Arnobius next en- 
deavours to show that we are in nothing distinguished from the brutes : 
so far as body, the maintenance of life, and the reproduction of the race 
are concerned, we are found to be alike, while the heathen are reminded 
of the doctrine of the transmigration of souls (16) ; and if stress is laid 
on man's reason and intelligence as a distinctive characteristic, it is first 
suggested that all men do not act rationally, and the question is then 
asked, What is the reason which man possesses, and not the beasts (17)? 
Man's practical skill is no proof of superior reason, for its exercise is 
necessitated by his excessive poverty ; and it is, moreover, not a faculty 
native in the soul, but one acquired only after long years under the 
pressure of necessity (18). The arts, grammar, music, oratory, and 
geometry are similarly noticed, and the doctrine of reminiscence re- 
jected (19). Arnobius next supposes a boy to be brought up wholly 
apart from human society, and seeks to establish his position by the 
supposed results of imaginary questions put to this hypothetical being 
(20-23) ; and then goes on to attack the contrary opinions which Plato 
had sought to establish in a somewhat similar way, by challenging him 
to question the boy just imagined, who is, of course, found to be exactly 
what was intended (24) ; and thus gives his creator a triumph, by show- 
ing conclusively that man untaught is ignorant as a stock or stone, while 
on being taught other creatures can learn also — the ox and ass to grind 
and plough, the horse to run in harness, and the like (25). Pursuing 
the same subject, it is argued that if the soul loses its former knowledge 
on uniting with the body, it cannot be incorporeal, and cannot therefore 
be immortal (26, 27) ; and further, that if the soul's former knowledge 
were lost through the influence of the body, the knowledge acquired in 
this life should in like manner be lost (28). Those who assert the soul's 
immortality are accused of teaching that which will add to the wicked- 

60 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

ness of men : for how shall any one be restrained even by the fear of a 
higher power, who is persuaded that his life cannot be cut short by any 
power (29) ? while if he is threatened with the punishments of the 
infernal regions, he will laugh them to scorn, knowing that what is in- 
corruptible cannot be affected by mere bodily ills. If the soul is im- 
mortal, Arnobius affirms there is no need or ground for philosophy, that 
is, ethics, whose purpose is to raise man above the brutish pleasures of 
sense to a virtuous life : for why should not a soul which cannot perish 
give itself up to any pleasures ? while if the soul is mortal, philosophy is 
in precisely the same position, aiming to do for man what will not profit 
him if done (30). The soul, he concludes, is neither mortal nor im- 
mortal (31) ; and there is therefore good reason that those who have no 
confidence in their power to help themselves, should welcome a saviour 
in one more powerful (32, 33). Christians and heathen alike, then, 
look for the deliverance of their souls from death ; and neither party, 
therefore, has any reason to mock the other in this (33, 34). Such, too, 
is the condition of all spirits which are supposed to exist (35) ; and it 
is only through God's goodness that any spirit becomes immortal (3G). 
It is next argued at great length, and with some prolixity, that the soul 
is not sprung from God, on the ground of its vicious and imperfect 
nature (37-46) ; and it is then shown that, in denying the soul's divine 
origin on this ground, we are acting most reasonably, although we cannot 
say what its real origin is (47, 48) ; while if any one attempts to show 
that the soul is not imperfect and polluted by sin by pointing to good 
and upright men, he is reminded that the whole race cannot taVe its 
character from a few individual members, and that these men were not 
so naturally (49, 50). There is nothing ridiculous, Arnobius goes on to 
say, in confessing ignorance of such matters ; and the preceding state- 
ments are to a certain extent supported by Plato's authority, in so far as 
he separates the formation of man's soul from the divine acts (51, 52). 
But if this belief be mistaken, what harm does it do to others (53) ? 
From this there naturally follows a discussion of the origin of evil, the 
existence of which cannot be denied, though its cause is beyond our 
knowledge ; it is enough to know that all God does is good (54, 55). 
How idle a task it would be to attempt the solution of such problems, is 
seen when we consider how diverse are the results already arrived at, 
and that each is supported on plausible grounds (56, 57) ; which clearly 
shows that man's curiosity cannot be certainly satisfied, and that one 
man cannot hope to win general assent to his opinions (57). Arnobius 
now proposes to his opponents a series of questions as to men and things, 
after answering which they may with more reason taunt him with his 
ignorance of the soul's origin (58, 59) ; and says that, because of the 
vanity of all these inquiries, Christ had commanded them to be laid 
aside, and men to strive after the knowledge of God (60), and the 
deliverance of their souls from the evils which otherwise await them 


(61), — a task to be accomplished only through the aid of Him who is 
all-powerful (62). The condition of those who lived before Christ 
came to earth is to be learned from his teaching (6,3) ; and his bounty- 
extends to all, though all do not accept it (64) ; for to compel those to 
turn to him who will not come, would be to use violence, not to show 
mercy (65). No purity therefore, or holiness, can save the man who 
refuses to accept Christ as his Saviour (66). Arnobius next deals with 
the objection that Christianity is a thing of yesterday, for which it 
would be absurd to give up the more ancient religions, by asking if 
it is thus that we look upon the various improvements which have been 
suggested from time to time by the increase of knowledge and wisdom 
(66-68). All things, moreover, have had a beginning — philosophy, 
medicine, music, and the rest (69), even the gods themselves (70) ; but 
all this is wholly beside the mark, for the truth of a religion depends 
not on its age, but on its divine origin. And if, a few hundred years 
before, there was no Christianity, the gods were in like manner unknown 
at a still earlier period (71). But Christianity worships that which was 
before all, the eternal God, although late in its worship, because there 
was not the needed revelation sooner (72). Arnobius again asserts 
that Christianity does not stand alone, for it was at a comparatively late 
time that the worship of Serapis and Isis, and of others, was introduced ; 
and so Christianity too had sprung up but lately, because it was only 
then that its teacher had appeared (73) : and having considered why 
Christ was so late in appearing among men (74, 75), and why Christians 
are allowed to undergo such suffering and trial on earth (76, 77), he 
earnestly exhorts all to see to the safety of their souls, and flee for 
salvation to God, seeing that such terrible dangers threaten us, lest 
the last day come upon us, and we be found in the jaws of death (78). 1 

ERE, if any means could be found, I should 
wish to converse thus with all those who 
hate the name of Christ, turning aside for 
a little from the defence primarily set up: — 
If you think it no dishonour to answer when asked a ques- 

1 There has been much confusion in dealing with the first seven 
chapters of this book, owing to the leaves of the MS. having been 
arranged in wrong order, as was pointed out at an early period by some 
one who noted on the margin that there was some transposition. To this 
circumstance, however, Oehler alone seems to have called attention ; but 
the corruption was so manifest, that the various editors gave themselves 
full liberty to re-arrange and dispose the text more correctly. The first 
leaf of the MS. concludes with the words sine nlliiis person x discrlminibus 
inrogavit, "without any distinction of person," and is followed by one 


tion, explain to us and say what is the cause, what the 
reason, that you pursue Christ with so bitter hostility? or 
what offences you remember which he did, that at the 
mention of his name you are roused to bursts of mad and 
savage fury ? 1 Did he ever, in claiming for himself power as 
king, fill the whole world with bands of the fiercest soldiers ; 
and of nations at peace from the beginning, did he destroy 
and put an end to some, [and] compel others to submit to his 
yoke and serve him? Did he ever, excited by grasping 2 
avarice, claim as his own by right all that wealth to have 
abundance of which men strive eagerly? Did he ever, 
transported with lustful passions, break down by force the 
barriers of purity, or stealthily lie in wait for other men's 
w r ives ? Did he ever, puffed up with haughty arrogance, in- 
flict at random injuries and insults, without any distinction of 
persons? (B) And if he was not worthy that you should listen 
to and believe [him, yet] he should not have been despised 
by you even on this account, that he showed to you things 
concerning your salvation, that he prepared for you a path 3 to 

which begins with the words (A, end of c. 5) et non omnium virtutum, 
" and (not) by an eager longing," and ends tanta experiatur examina, 
" undergoes such countless ills " (middle of c. 7). The third and fourth 
leaves begin with the words (B, end of c. 1) utrum in cunctos . . . 
amoverit? qui si dignos, "Now if he was not worthy '' (see notes), and 
run on to end of c. 5, quadam dulcedine, " by some charm ; " while the 
fifth (C, middle of c. 7) begins atque ne (or utrumne) Mum, " whether 
the earth," and there is no further difficulty. This order is retained in 
the first ed., and also by Hildebrand, who supposes three lacunae at A, 
B, and C, to account for the abruptness and want of connection ; but it 
is at once seen that, on changing the order of the leaves, so that they 
•shall run B A C, the argument and sense are perfectly restored. This 
arrangement seems to have been first adopted in LB., and is followed 
by the later editors, with the exception of Hildebrand. 

1 Lit., " boil up with the ardours of furious spirits." 

2 Lit., " by the heats of." 

3 So Meursius, reading a- for the MS. o-ptaret, which is retained by 
LB., Orelli, and others. The MS. reading is explained, along with the 
next words vota immortalitatis, by Orelli as meaning " sought by his 
prayers," with reference to John xvii. 24, in which he is clearly mis- 
taken. Heraldus conjectures p-o-r-ta-s a-p-er-taret, "opened paths . . . 
and the gates of immortality." 


heaven, and the immortality for which you long; although 1 he 
neither extended the light of life to all, nor delivered [all] from 
the danger which threatens them through their ignorance. 2 

2. But indeed, [some one will say], he deserved our hatred 
because he has driven religion 3 from the world, because he 
has kept men back from seeking to honour the gods. 4 
Is he then denounced as the destroyer of religion and pro- 
moter of impiety, who brought true religion into the world, 
who opened the gates of piety to men blind and verily 
living in impiety, and pointed out to whom they should bow 
themselves? Or is there any truer religion — [one] more 
serviceable, 5 powerful, [and] right — than to have learned to 
know the supreme God, to know [how] to pray to God 
supreme, who alone is the source and fountain of all good, 
the creator, 6 founder, and framer of all that endures, by whom 

1 The words which follow, ut non in cunctos, etc., have been thus trans- 
posed by Heraldus, followed by later editors ; but formerly they pre- 
ceded the rest of the sentence, and, according to Oehler, the MS. gives 
utrum, thus : " [You ask] whether he has both extended to all . . . 
ignorance ? who, if he was not," etc. Cf. p. 55, note 3. 

2 So the MS., reading periculum i-g-n-ora-tionis, for which Meursius 
suggests i-n-teri-tionis — "danger of destruction." 


4 This seems the true rationale of the sentence, viewed in relation to 
the context. Immediately before, Arnobius suggests that the hatred of 
Christ by the heathen is unjustifiable, because they had suffered nothing 
at his hands ; now an opponent is supposed to rejoin, " But he has de- 
served our hatred by assailing our religion." The introductory particles 
at enim fully bear this out, from their being regularly used to introduce 
a rejoinder. Still, by Orelli and other editors the sentence is regarded 
as interrogative, and in that case would be, " Has he indeed merited our 
hatred by driving out," etc., which, however, not merely breaks away 
from what precedes, but also makes the next sentence somewhat lame. 
The older editors, too, read it without any mark of interrogation. 

5 i.e., according to Orelli, to the wants of men ; but possibly it may 
here have the subjective meaning of " more full of service," i.e. to God. 

6 So the MS., reading perpetuarum pater, fundator, conditor rerum, but 
all the editions pa-ri-ter, " alike," which has helped to lead Orelli astray. 
He suggests et fons est perpetu-us pariter, etc., "perpetual fountain, . . . 
of all things alike the founder and framer." It has been also proposed 
by Oehler (to get rid of the difficulty felt here) to transfer per metathesin, 
the idea of " enduring" to God ; but the reference is surely quite clear, 

64 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

all things on earth and all in heaven are quickened, and filled 
with the stir of life, and without whom there would assuredly 
be nothing to bear any name, and [have any] substance ? But 
perhaps you doubt whether there is that ruler of whom we speak, 
and rather [incline to] believe in the existence of Apollo, Diana, 
Mercury, Mars. Give a true judgment; 1 and, looking round 
on all these things which we see, [any one] will rather doubt 
whether [all] the other gods exist, than hesitate with regard to 
the God whom we all know by nature, whether when we cry 
out, O God, or when we make God the witness of wicked 
[deeds], 2 and raise our face to heaven as though he saw us. 

3. But he did not permit men to make supplication to the 
lesser gods. Do you, then, know who are, or where are the 
lesser gods ? Has mistrust of them, or the way in which they 
were mentioned, ever touched you, so that you are justly indig- 
nant that their worship has been done away with and deprived 
of all honour? 3 But if haughtiness of mind and arrogance, 4 
as it is called by the Greeks, did not stand in your way and 
hinder you, you might long ago have been able to understand 
what he forbade to be done, or wherefore; within what limits 
he would have true religion lie; 5 what danger arose to you from 
that which you thought obedience; or from what evils you 
would escape if you broke away from your dangerous delusion. 

viewed as a distinction between the results of God's working and that 
of all other beings. 

1 So the MS. and almost all edd., reading da verum judicium, for which 
Heraldus suggested da naturx, or verum animas judicium, "give the 
judgment of nature," or " the true judgment of the soul," as if appeal 
were made to the inner sense ; but in his later observations he pro- 
posed da puerum judicem, " give a boy as judge," which is adopted by 
Orelli. Meursius, merely transposing d-a, reads much more naturally ad 
— " at a true judgment." 

2 The MS. reading is ilium testem d-e-um constituimus improb-arum, 
retained in the edd. with the change of -arum into -orum. Perhaps for 
deum should be read r-e-r-um, " make him witness of wicked things." 
With this passage compare iii. 31-33. 

3 It seems necessary for the sake of the argument to read this inter- 
rogatively, but in all the edd. the sentence ends without any mark of 

4 Typhus— rvQos. * Lit., "he chose ... to stand." 


4. But all these things will be more clearly and distinctly 
noticed when we have proceeded further. For we shall 
show that Christ did not teach the nations impiety, but 
delivered ignorant and wretched men from those who most 
wickedlv wronged them. 1 We do not believe, you say, that 
what he says is true. What, then % Have you no doubt as 
to the things which 2 you say are not true, while, as they are 
[only] at hand, and not yet disclosed, 3 they can by no means 
be disproved? But he, too, does not prove what he pro- 
mises. It is so; for, as I said, there can be no proof of 
[things still in] the future. Since, then, the nature of the 
future is such that it cannot be grasped and comprehended 
by any anticipation, 4 is it not more rational, 5 of two things 
uncertain and hanging in doubtful suspense, rather to believe 
that which carries [with it] some hopes, than that which 
[brings] none at all? For in the one case there is no 
danger, if that which is said to be at hand should prove 
vain and groundless ; in the other there is the greatest loss, 
even 6 the loss of salvation, if, when the time has come, it 
be shown that there was nothing false [in what was de- 
clared]. 7 

5. What say you, O ignorant ones, for whom w T e might 
well weep and be sad % 8 Are you so void of fear that these 

1 Lit., " the ignorance of wretched men from the worst robbers," 
i.e. the false prophets and teachers, who made a prey of the ignorant 
and credulous. Cf. p. 51, n. 4. 

2 Lit., " Are [the things] clear with you which," etc. 

3 So the MS., followed by both Roman edd., Hildebrand and Oehler, 
reading passa, which Cujacius (referring it to patior, as the editors seem 
to have done generally) would explain as meaning " past," while in all 
other editions cassa, " vain," is read. 

4 Lit., " the touching of no anticipation." 

5 Lit., " purer reasoning." 

6 Lit., " that is." This clause Meursius rejects as a gloss. 

7 i.e. If you believe Christ's promises, your belief makes you lose 
nothing should it prove groundless ; but if you disbelieve them, then 
the consequences to you will be terrible if they are sure. This would 
seem too clear to need remark, were it not for the confusion of Orelli 
in particular as to the meaning of the passage. 

8 Lit., " most worthy even of weeping and pity." 


things may be true which are despised by you and turned to 
ridicule ? and do you not consider with yourselves at least, 
in your secret thoughts, lest that which to-day with perverse 
obstinacy you refuse to believe, time may too late show to 
be true, 1 and ceaseless remorse punish [you] ? Do not even 
these proofs at least give you faith to believe, 2 [viz.] that 
already, in so short and brief a time, the oaths of this vast 
army have spread abroad over all the earth? that already 
there is no nation so rude and fierce that it has not, changed 
by his love, subdued its fierceness, and, with tranquillity 
hitherto unknown, become mild in disposition ? 3 that [men] 
endowed with so great abilities, orators, critics, rhetoricians, 
lawyers, and physicians, those, too, who pry into the myste- 
ries of philosophy, seek to learn these things, despising those 
in which but now they trusted ? that slaves choose to be tor- 
tured by their masters as they please, wives to be divorced, 
children to be disinherited by their parents, rather than be 
unfaithful to Christ and cast off the oaths of the warfare of 
salvation ? that although so terrible punishments have been 
denounced by you against those who follow the precepts of 
this religion, it 4 increases [even] more, and a great host 
strives more boldly against all threats and the terrors which 
would keep it back, and is roused to zealous faith by the 
very attempt to hinder it ? Do you indeed believe that 
these things happen idly and at random ? that these feelings 
are adopted on being met with by chance ? 5 Is not this, then, 
sacred and divine 1 Or [do you believe] that, without God['s 
grace], their minds are so changed, that although murderous 
hooks and other tortures without number threaten, as we said, 
those who shall believe, they receive the grounds of faith 

1 Redargued. This sense is not recognised by Riddle and White, and 
would therefore seem to be, if not unique, at least extremely rare. The 
derivative redargutio, however, is in late Latin used for " demonstra- 
tion," and this is evidently the meaning here. 

2 Fidem vobis faciunt argumenta credendi. Heraldus, joining the two 
last words, naturally regards them as a gloss from the margin ; but read 
as above, joining the first and last, there is nothing out of place. 

3 Lit., " tranquillity being assumed, passed to placid feelings." 

4 Res, " the thing." t 5 Lit., " on chance encounters." 


with which they have become acquainted, 1 as if carried away 
(A) by some charm, and by an eager longing for all the virtues, 2 
and prefer the friendship of Christ to all that is in the world 1 3 
6. But perhaps those seem to you weak-minded and silly, 
who even now are uniting all over the world, and joining 
together to assent with that readiness of belief [at which 
you mock]. 4 What, then? Do you alone, imbued 5 with 
the true power of wisdom and understanding, see something 
wholly different 6 and profound 1 Do you alone perceive 
that all these things are trifles % you alone, that those things 
are mere words and childish absurdities which we declare 
[are] about to come to us from the supreme Ruler % Whence, 
pray, has so much wisdom been given to you I whence so 

1 Rationes cognitas. There is some difficulty as to the meaning of 
these words, but it seems best to refer them to the argumenta credendi 
(beginning of chapter, " do not even these proofs "), and render as above. 
Hildebrand, however, reads tortiones, " they accept the tortures which 
they know will befall them." 

2 The MS. reads et non omnium, " and by a love not of all the virtues," 
changed in most edd. as above into atque omnium, while Oehler pro- 
poses et novo omnium, " and by fresh love of all," etc. It will be remem- 
bered that the transposition of leaves in the MS. (note on ii. 1) occurs 
here, and this seems to account for the arbitrary reading of Gelenius, 
which has no MS. authority whatever, but was added by himself when 
transposing these chapters to the first book (cf. p. 55, n. 4), atque nectare 
ebrii cuncta contemnant — " As if intoxicated with a certain sweetness and 
nectar, they despise all things." The same circumstance has made the 
restoration of the passage by Canterus a connecting of fragments of 
widely separated sentences and arguments. 

3 Lit., " all the things of the world." Here the argument breaks off, 
and passes into a new phase, but Orelli includes the next sentence also 
in the fifth chapter. 

4 Lit., " to the assent of that credulity." 

5 So the MS., reading conditi vi mera, for which Orelli would read 
with Oudendorp, conditse. — "by the pure force of recondite wisdom." 
The MS., however, is supported by the similar phrase in the beginning 
of c. 8, where tincti is used. 

6 So the MS., reading aliud, for which Stewechius, adopting a sugges- 
tion of Canterus, conjectures, altius et profundius — " something deeper 
and more profound." Others propose readings further removed from 
the text ; while Obbarius, retaining the MS. reading, explains it as "not 

68 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

much subtlety and wit? Or from what scientific training 
have you been able to gain so much wisdom, to derive so much 
foresight ? Because you are skilled in declining verbs and 
nouns by cases and tenses, [and] * in avoiding barbarous 
words and expressions ; because you have learned either to 
express yourselves in 2 harmonious, and orderly, and fitly- 
disposed language, or to know when it is rude and unpolished ; 3 
because you have stamped on your memory the Fornix of 
Lucilius, 4 and Marsyas of Pomponius ; because [you know] 
what the issues to be proposed in lawsuits are, how many 
kinds of cases there are, how many ways of pleading, what 
the genus is, what the species, by what methods an opposite 
is distinguished from a contrary, — do you therefore think 
that you know what is false, what true, what can or cannot 
be done, what is the nature of the lowest and highest ? Have 
the well-known words never rung in 5 your ears, that the 
wisdom of man is foolishness with God ? 

7. In the first place, you yourselves, too, 6 see clearly that, 

1 Lit., " because [you are," etc.]. 

2 Lit, "either yourselves to utter," etc. 

3 Incomptus, for which Heraldus would read inconditus, as in opposi- 
tion to " harmonious." This is, however, unnecessary, as the clause is 
evidently opposed to the whole of the preceding one. 

4 No trace of either of these works has come down to us, and there- 
fore, though there has been abundance of conjecture, we can reach no 
satisfactory conclusion about them. It seems most natural to suppose 
the former to be probably part of the lost satires of Lucilius, which had 
dealt with obscene matters, and the author of the latter to be the Atel- 
lane poet of Bononia. As to this there has been some discussion ; but, 
in our utter ignorance of the work itself, it is as well to allow that we 
must remain ignorant of its author also. The scope of both works is 
suggested clearly enough by their titles — the statue of Marsyas in the 
forum overlooking nightly licentious orgies ; and their mention seems 
intended to suggest a covert argument against the heathen, in the im- 
plied indecency of the knowledge on which they prided themselves. For 
Fornicem Lucilianum (ms. Lucialinum) Meursius reads Csecilianum. 

5 Lit., " Has that [thing] published never struck," etc. There is 
clearly a reference to 1 Cor. iii. 19, " the wisdom of this world." The 
argument breaks off here, and is taken up from a different point in the 
next sentence, which is included, however, in this chapter by Orelli. 

6 "So Gelenius, followed by Canterus and Orelli, reading primum et 


if you ever discuss obscure subjects, and seek to lay bare the 
mysteries of nature, on the one hand you do not know the 
very things which you speak of, which you affirm, which 
you uphold very often with especial zeal, and that each one 
defends with obstinate resistance his own suppositions as 
though they were proved and ascertained [truths]. For how 
can we of ourselves know whether we 1 perceive the truth, 
even if all ages be employed in seeking out knowledge — [we] 
whom some envious power 2 brought forth, and formed so 
ignorant and proud, that, although we know nothing at all, 
we yet deceive ourselves, and are uplifted by pride and 
arrogance so as to suppose ourselves possessed of knowledge ! 
For, to pass by divine things, and those plunged in natural 
obscurity, can any man explain that which in the Phaedrus 3 
the well-known Socrates cannot comprehend — what man is, 
or whence he is, uncertain, changeable, deceitful, manifold, 
of many kinds % for what purposes he was produced ? by 
whose ingenuity he was devised % what he does in the world V 
(C) why he undergoes such countless ills ! whether the earth 
gave life to him as to worms and mice, being affected with 
decay through the action of some moisture; 4 or whether he 

ipsi, by rejecting one word of the MS. (et qux). Canterus plausibly 
combines both words into itaque — " therefore." LB. reads ecquid — " do 
you at all," etc., with which Orelli so far agrees, that he makes the 
whole sentence interrogative. 

1 So restored by Stewechius ; in the first ed. perspiclam (instead of 
am-us) " if I perceive the truth," etc. 

2 So the MS. very intelligibly and forcibly, res . . . invida, but the 
common reading is invid-i-a — " whom something . . . with envy." The 
train of thought which is merely started here is pursued at some length 
a little later. 

3 The MS. gives fedro, but all editions, except the first, Hildebrand, 
and Oehler, read Phxdone, referring, however, to a passage in the first 
Alcibiades (st. p. 129), which is manifestly absurd, as in it, while Alci- 
biades "cannot tell what man is," Socrates at once proceeds to lead him 
to the required knowledge by the usual dialectic. Nourry thinks that 
there is a general reference to Phxdr. st. p. 230,— a passage in which 
Socrates says that he disregards mythological questions that he may 
study himself. 

4 Lit., " changed with the rottenness of some moisture." The refer- 


received x these outlines of body, and [this] cast of face, from 
the hand of some maker and framer ? Can he, I say, know 
these things, which lie open to all, and are recognisable by 2 
the senses common [to all], — by what causes we are plunged 
into sleep, by what we awake ? in what ways dreams are 
produced, in what they are seen % nay rather — as to which 
Plato in the Thecetetus 8 is in doubt — whether we are ever 
awake, or whether that very state which is called waking is 
part of an unbroken slumber? and what we seem to do when 
we say that we see a dream ? whether we see by means of 
rays of light proceeding towards the object, 4 or images of 
the objects fly to and alight on the pupils of our eyes ? 
whether the flavour is in the things [tasted], or arises from 
their touching the palate I from what causes hairs lay aside 
their natural darkness, and do not become gray all at once, 
but by adding little by little ? why it is that all fluids, on 
mingling, form one whole ; [that] oil, [on the contrary], does 
not suffer the others to be poured into it, 5 but is ever brought 
together clearly into its own impenetrable 6 substance 1 finally, 
why the soul also, which is said by you to be immortal and 
divine, 7 is sick in [men who are] sick, senseless in children, 

ence is probably to the statement by Socrates (Phazdo, st. p. 96) of the 
questions with regard to the origin of life, its progress and development, 
which interested him as a young man. 

1 So the MS., LB., and Oehler, but the other edd. make the verb 
plural, and thus break the connection. 

2 Lit., "established in the common senses." 

3 Arnobius overstates the fact here. In the passage referred to (Th. 
st. p. 158), Socrates is represented as developing the Protagorean theory 
from its author's standpoint, not as stating his own opinions. 

4 Lit., " by the stretching out of rays and of light." This, the doc- 
trine of the Stoics, is naturally contrasted in the next clause with that 
of Epicurus. 

5 Lit., " oil refuses to suffer immersion into itself," i.e. of other 

6 So LB., followed by Orelli, reading impenetrabil-em for the MS. 
impenetrabil-is, which is corrected in both Boman edd. by Gelenius, 
Canterus, and Elmenhorst -e, to agree with the subject oleum — "being 
impenetrable is ever," etc. 

b., "a god." 


worn out in doting, silly, 1 and crazy old age f Now the weak- 
ness and wretched ignorance of these [theories] is greater on 
this account, that while it may happen that we at times say 
something which is true, 2 we cannot be sure even of this 
very thing, whether we have spoken the truth at all. 

8. And since you have been wont to laugh at our faith, 
and with droll jests to pull to pieces [our] readiness of belief 
too, say, O wits, soaked and filled with wisdom's pure draught, 
is there in life any kind of business demanding diligence and 
activity, which the doers 3 undertake, engage in, and essay, 
without believing [that it can be done] ? Do you travel 
about, do you sail on the sea without believing that you will 
return home when your business is done ? Do you break 
up the earth with the plough, and fill it with different kinds 
of seeds without believing that you will gather in the fruit 
with the changes of the seasons ? Do you unite with part- 
ners in marriage, 4 without believing that it will be pure, and 
a union serviceable to the husband ? Do you beget children 
without believing that they will pass 5 safely through the 
[different] stages of life to the goal of age ? Do you commit 
your sick bodies to the hands of physicians, without believing 
that diseases can be relieved by their severity being lessened? 
Do you wage wars with your enemies, without believing that 
you will carry off the victory by success in battles? 6 Do 
you worship and serve the gods without believing that they 
are, and that they listen graciously to your prayers ? 

9. What, have you seen with your eyes, and handled 7 
with your hands, those things which you write yourselves, 

1 So the edd., generally reading fatua for the MS. futura, which is 
clearly corrupt. Hildebrand turns the three adjectives into correspond- 
ing verbs, and Heinsius emends deliret (ms. -ra) et fatue et insane — 
" dotes both sillily and crazily." Arnobius here follows Lucr. iii. 445 sqq. 

2 Lit., " something of truth." 

3 The MS. h&sa-t-tor-o-s, corrected by a later writer a-c-tor-e-s, which 
is received in LB. and by Meursius and Orelli. 

4 Lit., " unite marriage partnerships." 

5 Lit., "be safe and come." 

6 Or, " in successive battles" — prceliorum successionibus. 

7 Lit., " with ocular inspection, and held touched." 

72 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

which you read from time to time on subjects placed beyond 
human knowledge ? Does not each one trust this author or 
that f That which any one has persuaded himself is said 
with truth by another, does he not defend with a kind of 
assent, as it were, [like that] of faith ? Does not he who 
says that lire 1 or water is the origin of all things, pin his 
faith to Thales or Heraclitus ? he who places the cause [of 
all] in numbers, to Pythagoras of Samos, [and] to Archytas? 
he who divides the soul, and sets up bodiless forms, to Plato, 
the disciple of Socrates? he who adds a fifth element 2 to the 
primary causes, to Aristotle, the father of the Peripatetics? 
he who threatens the world with [destruction by] fire, and 
says that when the time comes it will be [set] on fire, to 
Pansetius, Chrysippus, Zeno? he who is always fashioning 
worlds from atoms, 3 and destroying [them], to Epicurus, 
Democritus, Metrodorus ? he who [says] that nothing is com- 
prehended by man, and that all things are wrapt in dark 
obscurity, 4 to Archesilas, 5 to Carneades? — to some teacher, 
in fine, of the old and later Academy ? 

10. Finally, do not even the leaders and founders of the 
schools 6 already mentioned, say those very things 7 which 

1 " Fire" is wanting in the MS. 

2 Arnobius here allows himself to be misled by Cicero (Tusc. i. 10), 
who explains lurt'hi^iiot as a kind of perpetual motion, evidently con- 
fusing it with vjbih'i-tfiu. (cf. Donaldson, New Crat. § 339 sqq.), and re- 
presents Aristotle as making it a fifth primary cause. The word has no 
such meaning, and Aristotle invariably enumerates only four primary 
causes: the material from which, the form in which, the power by which, 
and the end for which anything exists {Physics, ii. 3 ; Metaph. iv. 2, etc.). 

3 Lit., "with indivisible bodies." 4 PL 

5 So the MS., LB., and Hildebrand, reading Archesilx, while the 
others read Archesilao, forgetting that Arcesilas is the regular Latin 
form, although Archesilaus is found. 

6 Sententiar um is read in the first ed. by Gelenius, Canterus, and 
Ursinus, and seems from Crusius to be the MS. reading. The other 
edd., however, have received from the margin of Ursinus the reading of 
the text, sectarum. 

7 In the first ed., and that of Ursinus, the reading is, nonne apud ea, 
" in those things which they say, do they not say," etc., which Gelenius 
emended as in the text, nonne ipsa ea. 


they do say through belief in their own ideas? For, did 
Heraclitus see things produced by the changes of fires? 
Thales, by the condensing of water ? * [Did] Pythagoras [see 
them] spring from number? 2 [Did] Plato [see] the bodiless 
forms ? Democritus, the meeting together of the atoms? Or 
do those who assert that nothing at all can be comprehended 
by man, know whether what they say is true, so as to 3 
understand that the very proposition which they lay down 
is a declaration of truth ? 4 Since, then, you have discovered 
and learned nothing, and are led by credulity to assert all 
those things which you write, and comprise in thousands of 
books ; what kind of judgment, pray, is this, so unjust that 
you mock at faith in us, while you see that you have it 
in common with our readiness of belief ? 5 But [you say] 
you believe wise men, well versed in all kinds of learning ! 
— those, forsooth, who know nothing, and agree in nothing 
which they say; who join battle with their opponents on 
behalf of their own opinions, and are always contending 
fiercely with obstinate hostility ; who, overthrowing, refuting, 

1 Cf. Diog. Laert. ix. 9, where Heraclitus is said to have taught that 
fire — the first principle — condensing becomes water, water earth, and 
conversely ; and on Thales, Arist. Met. A, 3, where, however, as in 
other places, Thales is merely said to have referred the generation and 
maintenance of all things to moisture, although by others he is repre- 
sented as teaching the doctrine ascribed to him above. Cf. Cic. de Nat. 
Deor. i. 10, and Heraclides, Alleg. Horn. c. 22, where water evaporating 
is said to become air, and settling, to become mud. 

2 There is some difficulty as to the reading : the MS., first ed., and 
Ursinus give numero s-c-ire, explained by Canterus as meaning " that 
numbers have understanding, 1 ' i.e. so as to be the cause of all. Gelenius, 
followed by Canterus, reads -os scit — "does Pyth. know numbers," 
which is absurdly out of place. Heraldus approved of a reading in the 
margin of Ursinus (merely inserting o after c), " that numbers unite, 1 ' 
which seems very plausible. The text follows an emendation of Gro- 
novius adopted by Orelli, -o ex-ire. 

3 So the MS., reading ut ; but Orelli, and all edd. before him, aut — " or 
do they." 

4 i.e. that truth knowable by man exists. 

5 So the MS. reading nostra in-crediditate, for which Ursinus, followed 
by Stewechius, reads nostra cum. Heraldus conjectured vestra, i.e. " in 
your readiness of belief, 11 you are just as much exposed to such ridicule. 

74 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

and brinsnns to nousdit the one the other's doctrines, have 
made all things doubtful, and have shown from their very 
want of agreement that nothing can be known. 

11. But, [supposing that] these things do not at all hinder 
or prevent your being bound to believe and hearken to them 
in great measure ; * and what [reason] is there either that you 
should have more [liberty] in this respect, or that we [should 
have] less ? You believe Plato, 2 Cronius, 3 Numenius, or any 
one you please ; we believe and confide in Christ. How un- 
reasonable it is, that when we both abide 4 by teachers, and 
have one and the same thing, belief, in common, you should 
wish it to be granted to you to receive what is so 5 said by them, 
[but] should be unwilling to hear and see what is brought for- 
ward by Christ ! And yet, if we chose to compare cause with 
cause, we are better able to point out what we have followed 
in Christ, than [you to point out] what you [have followed] 
in the philosophers. And we, indeed, have followed in him 
these things — those glorious works and most potent virtues 
which he manifested and displayed in diverse miracles, by 
which any one might be led to [feel] the necessity of believing, 
and [might] decide with confidence that they were not such as 
might be regarded as man's, but [such as showed] some divine 
and unknown power. What virtues did you follow in the 

1 Heraldus has well suggested that plurimum is a gloss arising out of 
its being met with in the next clause. 

2 So the MS. and edd., reading Platoni; but Ursinus suggested Plotino, 
which Heraldus thinks most probably correct. There is, indeed, an 
evident suitableness in introducing here the later rather than the earlier 
philosopher, which has great weight in dealing with the next name, 
and should therefore, perhaps, have some in this case also. 

3 The MS. and both Roman edd. give Crotoiiio, rejected by the others 
because no Crotonius is known (it has been referred, however, to Pytha- 
goras, on the ground of his having taught in Croton). In the margin 
of Ursinus Cronius was suggested, received by LB. and Orelli, who is 
mentioned by Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. vi. 19, 3) with Numenius and others 
as an eminent Pythagorean, and by Porphyry (de Ant. Nymph, xxi.), 
as a friend of Numenius, and one of those who treated the Homeric 
poems as allegories. Gelenius substitutes Plotinus, followed by most edd. 

4 Stcmus, the admirable correction of Gelenius for the MS. tem-p-us. 

5 Orelli,- following Stewechius, would omit ita. 


philosophers, that it was more reasonable for you [to believe] 
them than for us to believe Christ ! Was any one of them 
ever able by one word, or by a single command, I will not 
say to restrain, to check ] the madness of the sea or the fury 
of the storm ; to restore their sight to the blind, or give it to 
men blind from their birth ; to call the dead back to life ; to 
put an end to the sufferings of years ; but — and this is much 
easier 2 — to heal by one rebuke a boil, a scab, or a thorn fixed 
in the skin 1 Not that we deny either that they are worthy 
of praise for the soundness of their morals, or that they are 
skilled in all kinds of studies and learning; for we know 
that they both speak in the most elegant language, and [that 
their words] flow in polished periods ; that they reason in 
syllogisms with the utmost acuteness ; that they arrange their 
inferences in due order ; 3 that they express, divide, distinguish 
principles by definitions ; that they say many things about 
the [different] kinds of numbers, many things about music ; 
that by their maxims and precepts 4 they settle the problems 
of geometry also. But what [has] that to [do with] the 
case? Do enthymemes, syllogisms, and other such things, 
assure us that these [men] know what is true ! or are they 
therefore such that credence should necessarily be given to 
them with regard to very obscure subjects ? A comparison 
of persons must be decided, not by vigour of eloquence, but 
by the excellence of the works [which they have] done. 
He must not 5 be called a good teacher who has expressed 
himself clearly, 6 but he who accompanies his promises with 
the guarantee of divine works. 

12. You bring forward arguments against us, and specu- 

1 Hildebrand thinks compescere here a gloss, but it must be remem- 
bered that redundancy is a characteristic of Arnobius. 

2 The superlative is here, as elsewhere, used by Arnobius instead of 
the comparative. 

3 i.e. so as to show the relations existing between them. 

4 Perhaps " axioms and postulates." 

5 According to Crusius, non is not found in the MS. 

6 White and Kiddle translate candidate, " sincerely," but give no 
other instance of its use, and here the reference is plainly to the pre- 
vious statement of the literary excellence of the philosophers. Heraldus 

76 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

lative quibbiings, 1 which — may I say this without displeasing 
him — if Christ himself were to use in the gatherings of the 
nations, who would assent ! who would listen ? who would 
say that he decided 2 anything clearly ? or who, though he 
w T ere rash and utterly 3 credulous, would follow him when 
pouring forth vain and baseless statements? His virtues 
[have been] made manifest to you, and that unheard-of 
power over things, whether that which was openly exercised 
by him, or that which was used 4 over the whole world by 
those who proclaimed him : it has subdued the fires of pas- 
sion, and caused races, and peoples, and nations most diverse 
in character to hasten with one accord to accept the same 
faith. For the [deeds] can be reckoned up and numbered 
which have been done in India, 5 among the Seres, Per- 
sians, and Medes ; in Arabia, Egypt, in Asia, Syria ; 
among the Galatians, Parthians, Phrygians ; in Achaia, 
Macedonia, Epirus ; in all islands and provinces on which 
the rising and setting sun shines ; in Rome herself, finally, 
the mistress [of the world], in which, although men are 6 

suggests callidule, " cunningly, " of which Orelli approves ; but by re- 
ferring the adv. to this well-known meaning of its primitive, all necessity 
for emendation is obviated. 

1 Lit., " subtleties of suspicions." This passage is certainly doubtful. 
The reading translated, et suspicionum argutias profer-tis, is that of LB., 
Orelli, and the later edd. generally; while the MS. reads -atis — " Bring 
forward arguments to us, and" (for which Heraldus conjectures very 
plausibly, nee, "and not") "subtleties," etc., which, by changing a 
single letter, reads in the earlier edd. profer-etis — " Will you," or, " You 
will bring forward," etc. 

2 Meursius conjectures mi- (for MS. ju-) dicare — " pointed out," of 
which Orelli approves. 

3 So the MS. and both Roman edd., supported by Heraldus, reading 
solidx facilitatis, changed by the edd. into stolidse — " stupid." 

4 So all the edd. except Oehler ; but as the first verb is plural in the 
MS., while the second is singular, it is at least as probable that the second 
was plural originally also, and that therefore the relative should be made 
to refer both to " virtues" and " power." 

c Orelli notes that by India is here meant Ethiopia. If so, it may be 
well to remember that Lucan (x. 29 sq.) makes the Seres neighbours of 
the Ethiopians, and dwellers at the sources of the Nile. 

6 Instead of sint, Stewechius would read essent — " were." 


busied with the practices introduced by king 1 Numa, and the 
superstitious observances of antiquity, they have nevertheless 
hastened to give up their fathers' mode of life, 2 and attach 
themselves to Christian truth. For they had seen the chariot 3 
of Simon Magus, and his fiery car, blown into pieces by the 
mouth of Peter, and vanish when Christ was named. They 
had seen [him], I say, trusting in false gods, and abandoned 
by them in their terror, borne down headlong by his own 
weight, lie prostrate with his legs broken ; [and] then, when 
he had been carried to Brunda, 4 worn out with anguish and 
shame, again cast himself down from the roof of a very lofty 
house. But all these deeds you neither know nor have 
wished to know, nor did you ever consider that they were 
of the utmost importance to you ; and while you trust your 
own judgments, and term [that] wisdom which is overweening 
conceit, you have given to deceivers — to those guilty [ones], 
I say, whose interest it is that the Christian name be de- 
graded — an opportunity of raising clouds of darkness, and 
concealing truths of so much importance ; of robbing you of 
faith, and putting scorn in its place, in order that, as they 
already feel that an end such as they deserve threatens them, 
they might excite in you also a feeling through which you 
should run into danger, and be deprived of the divine mercy. 
13. Meantime, however, O you who wonder and are aston- 
ished at the doctrines of the learned, and of philosophy, 

1 Instead of the MS. reading, Numx regis artibus et antiquis supersti- 
tionibus, Stewechius, followed by Heraldus, would read ritibus — " with 
the rites of Numa," etc. 

2 So the MS., reading res patrias, for which Heraldus, ritus patrios — 
" rites." 

3 So the MS., although the first five edd., by changing r into s, read 
cnr-s-um — " course." This story is of frequent occurrence in the later 
fathers, but is never referred to by the earlier, or by any except Christian 
writers, and is derived solely from the Apostolic Constitutions. In the 
Greek version of the Apost. Const, the sixth book opens with a disserta- 
tion on schisms and heresies, in which the story of Simon and others is 
told ; but that this was interpolated by some compiler seems clear from 
the arguments brought forward by Bunsen (Hippohjtus and Us Age, more 
particularly vol. ii. Pt. 2, § 2, and the second appendix). 

4 Brunda or Brenda, i.e. Brundisium. 

78 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

do you not then think it most unjust to scoff, to jeer at 
us as though we say foolish and senseless things, when you 
too are found to say either these or just such things which 
you laugh at when said and uttered by us ? Nor do I address 
those who, scattered through various bypaths of the schools, 
have formed this and that [insignificant] party through 
diversity of opinion. You, you I address, who zealously 
follow Mercury, 1 Plato, and Pythagoras, and the rest of you 
who are of one mind, and walk in unity in the same paths of 
doctrine. Do you dare to laugh at us because we 2 revere 
and worship the Creator and Lord 3 of the universe, and 
because we commit and entrust our hopes to Him ? What 
[does] your Plato [say] in the Thecetetus, to mention him 
especially ? Does he not exhort the soul to flee from the earth, 
and, as much as in it lies, to be continually engaged in 
thought and meditation about Him ? 4 Do you dare to laugh 
at us, because we say that there will be a resurrection of the 
dead ? And this indeed we confess that we say, but [main- 
tain] that it is understood by you otherwise than we hold it. 
What [says] the same Plato in the Politicus ? Does he not 
say that, when the world has begun to rise out of the west 
and tend towards the east, 5 men will again burst forth from 
the bosom of the earth, aged, grey-haired, bowed down with 

1 Hermes Trismegistus. See index. 

2 So the MS., Elmenh., LB., Hildebrand, and Oebler, reading quod, for 
Avhich the other edd. read qui — " who." 

3 This seems to be the reading intended by the MS., which according 
to Hild. gives clom, i.e. probably dominum, which Oehler adopts, but all 
other edd. read deum — " god." 

4 Arnobius rather exaggerates the force of the passage referred to (st. 
p. 173), which occurs in the beautiful digression on philosophers. Plato 
there says that only the philosopher's body is here on earth, while his 
mind, holding politics and the ordinary business and amusements of 
life unworthy of attention, is occupied with what is above and beneath 
the earth, just as Thales, when he fell into a ditch, was looking at the 
stars, and not at his steps. 

5 In cardinem vergere qui orientis est solis seems to be the reading 
of all edd. ; but according to Crusius the MS. reads vertere — " to 
turn." Hildebrand, on the contrary, affirms that instead of t, the MS. 
gives c. 


years ; and that when the remoter * years begin to draw near, 
they will gradually sink down 2 to the cradles of their infancy, 
through the same steps by which they now grow to man- 
hood 1 3 Do you dare to laugh at us because we see to 
the salvation of our souls ! — that is, ourselves [care] for our- 
selves : for what are we men, but souls shut up in bodies ? 
(You, indeed, do not take every pains for their safety, 4 in that 
you do not refrain from all vice and passion ; about this you 
are anxious, that you may cleave to [your] bodies as though 
inseparably bound to them. 5 ) What mean those mystic 
rites, 6 in which you beseech some [unknown] powers to be 
favourable to you, and not put any hindrance in your way 
to impede you when returning to your native seats ? 

14. Do you dare to laugh at us when we speak of hell, 7 
and fires s which cannot be quenched, into which we have 

1 i.e. originally earlier. 

2 So most edd., reading desituros, for which Stewechius suggests de- 
sulturos — " leap down ; " LB. exituros — " go out." 

3 Beference is here made to one of the most extraordinary of the 
Platonic myths (Pol. 269-274), in which the world is represented as not 
merely material, but as being further possessed of intelligence. It is 
ever in motion, but not always in the same way. For at one time its 
motion is directed by a divine governor (rov k^tos 6 ph xvfispvqrYis) ; but 
this does not continue, for he withdraws from his task, and thereupon 
the world loses, or rather gives up its previous bias, and begins to re- 
volve in the opposite direction, causing among other results a reverse 
development of the phenomena which occurred before, such as Arnobius 
describes. Arnobius, however, gives too much weight to the myth, as in 
the introduction it is more than hinted that it may be addressed to the 
young Socrates, as boys like such stories, and he is not much more than 
a boy. With it should be contrasted the "great year" of the Stoics, 
in which the universe fulfilled its course, and then began afresh to pass 
through the same experience as before (Nemesius, de Nat. Horn. c. 38). 

4 LB. makes these words interrogative, but the above arrangement is 
clearly vindicated by the tenor of the argument : You laugh at our 
care for our souls' salvation ; and truly you do not see to their safety by 
such precautions as a virtuous life, but do you not seek that which you 
think salvation by mystic rites ? 

5 Lit., " fastened with beam " (i.e. large and strong) "nails." 

6 Cf. on the intercessory prayers of the Magi, c. 62. 

7 PI. Cf. Milman's note on Gibbon, vol. 2, c. xi. p. 7. 

8 Lit., " certain fires." 

80 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

learned that souls are cast by their foes and enemies % What, 
does not your Plato also, in the book which he wrote on the 
immortality of the soul, name the rivers Acheron, Styx, 1 
Cocytus, and Pyriphlegethon, and assert that in them souls 
are rolled along, engulfed, and burned up? But [though] 
a man of no little wisdom, 2 and of accurate judgment and 
discernment, he essays a problem which cannot be solved ; so 
that, while he says that the soul is immortal, everlasting, 
and without bodily substance, he yet says that they are 
punished, and makes them suffer pain. 3 But what man does 
not see that that which is immortal, which [is] simple, 4 cannot 
be subject to any pain ; that that, on the contrary, cannot 
be immortal which does suffer pain ? And yet his opinion 
is not very far from the truth. For although the gentle and 
kindly disposed man thought it inhuman cruelty to condemn 
souls to death, he yet not unreasonably 5 supposed that they 
are cast into rivers blazing with masses of flame, and loath- 
some from their foul abysses. For they are cast in, and 
being annihilated, pass away vainly in 6 everlasting destruc- 
tion. For theirs is an intermediate 7 state, as has been 
learned from Christ's teaching ; and [they are] such that they 
may on the one hand perish if they have not known God, 
and on the other be delivered from death if they have given 
heed to his threats 8 and [proffered] favours. And to make 

1 Plato, in the passage referred to (Phsedo, st. p. 113, § 61), speaks 
of the Styx not as a river, but as the lake into which the Cocytus 
falls. The fourth river which he mentions in addition to the Acheron, 
Pyriphlcgethon, and Cocytus, which he calls Stygian, is the Ocean 

2 So the MS., according to Hild., reading parvx; but ace. to Rigaltius 
and Crusius, it gives pravx — " of no mean." 

3 So LB., Hild., and Oehler, reading doloris afficiat sensu, by merely 
dropping m from the MS. sensu-m; while all the other edd. read duloribus 
sensuum — " affects with the pains of the senses." 

4 i.e. not compounded of soul and body. 

5 Or, " not unsuitably," dbsone. 

c Lit., " in the failure (or ' disappointment') of," etc. 

7 i.e. neither immortal nor necessarily mortal. 

8 So Gelenius emended the unintelligible MS. reading se-mina by 
merely adding s, followed by all edd., although Ursinus in the margin 


manifest 1 what is unknown, this is man's real death, this 
which leaves nothing behind. For that which is seen by 
the eyes is [only] a separation of soul from body, not 
the last end — annihilation : a this, I say, is man's real death, 
w T hen souls which know not God shall 3 be consumed in 
long-protracted torment with raging fire, into which certain 
fiercely cruel [beings] shall 3 cast them, ivho were unknown 4 
before Christ, and brought to light only by his wisdom. 

15. Wherefore there is no reason that that 5 should mis- 
lead us, should hold out vain hopes to us, which is said by 
some men till now unheard of, 6 and carried away by an 
extravagant opinion of themselves, that souls are immortal, 
next in point of rank to the God and ruler of the world, 
descended from that parent and sire, divine, wise, learned, 
and not within reach of the body by contact. 7 Now, because 
this is true and certain, and because we have been produced 
by him who is perfect without flaw, we live unblameably, 
[I suppose], and therefore without blame ; [are] good, just, 
and upright, in nothing depraved ; no passion overpowers, 
no lust degrades us ; we maintain vigorously the unremitting 

suggests se mlam, i.e. mi-sericordlam — " pity ;" and Heraldus conjectures 
munia — " gifts." 

1 So almost all edd., from a conjecture of Gelenius, supplying ut, which 
is wanting in the MS., first ed., and Oehler. 

2 It is worth while to contrast Augustine's words : " The death which 
men fear is the separation of the soul from the body. The true death, 
which men do not fear, is the separation of the soul from God " (Aug. 
in Ps. xlviii., quoted by Elmenhorst). 

3 In the first ed., Gelenius, Canterus, Ursinus, and Orelli, both verbs 
are made present, but all other edd. follow the MS. as above. 

4 Lit., "and unknown." Here Arnobius shows himself ignorant of 
Jewish teaching, as in iii. 12. 

5 So the MS. and LB., followed by Oehler ; in the edd. id is omitted. 

6 The MS. reading is a no-b-is quibusdam, for which LB. reads nobis a 
qu. — " to us," and Hild. a notis — " by certain known ;" but all others, as 
above, from a conjecture of Gelenius, a no-v-is, although Orelli shows 
his critical sagacity by preferring an emendation in the margin of 
Ursinus, a bonis — " by certain good men," in which he sees a happy 
irony ! 

7 Lit., "not touchable by any contact of body," neque ulla corporis 
attrectatione contiguas. 


82 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

practice of all the virtues. And because all our souls have 
one origin, we therefore think exactly alike ; we do not 
differ in manners, we do not differ in beliefs ; we all know 
God ; and there are not as many opinions as there are men 
in the world, nor [are these] divided in infinite variety. 1 

16. But, [they say], while we are moving swiftly down 
towards our mortal bodies, 2 causes pursue us from the world's 
circles, 3 through the working of which we become bad, ay, 
most wicked ; burn with lust and anger, spend our life in 
shameful deeds, and are given over to the lust of all by the 
prostitution of our bodies for hire. And how can the material 
unite with the immaterial ? or how can that which God has 
made, be led by weaker causes to degrade itself through the 
practice of vice? Will you lay aside your habitual arrogance, 4 
O men, who claim God as your Father, and maintain that 
you are immortal, just as he is ? Will you inquire, examine, 
search what you are yourselves, whose you are, of what 
parentage you are supposed [to be], what you do in the 
world, in what way you are born, how you leap to life ? 
Will you, laying aside [all] partiality, consider in the silence 
of your thoughts that we are creatures either quite like the 
rest, or separated by no great difference ? For what is there 
to show that we do not resemble them ? or what excellence 
is in us, such that we scorn to be ranked as creatures ? 
Their bodies are built up on bones, and bound closely together 
by sinews ; and our bodies are in like manner built up on 

1 Arnobius considers the reductio ad absurdum so very plain, that he 
does not trouble himself to state his argument more directly. 

2 There has been much confusion as to the meaning of Arnobius 
throughout this discussion, which would have been obviated if it had 
been remembered that his main purpose in it is to show how unsatis- 
factory and unstable are the theories of the philosophers, and that he 
is not therefore to be identified with the views brought forward, but 
rather with the objections raised to them. 

3 Cf. c. 28, p. 95. 

4 So the MS., followed by Orelli and others, reading institutum super- 
ciliumque — " habit and arrogance," for the first word of which LB. reads 
istum typhum — " that pride of yours ; " Meursius, isti typlium — " Lay aside 
pride, ye." 


bones, and bound closely together by sinews. They inspire 
the air through nostrils, and in breathing expire it again ; 
and we in like manner draw in the air, and breathe it out 
with frequent respirations. They have been arranged in 
classes, female and male; we, too, have been fashioned by our 
Creator into the same sexes. 1 Their young are born from 
the womb, and are begotten through union of the sexes ; 
and we are born from sexual embraces, and are brought 
forth and sent into life from our mothers' wombs. They 
are supported by eating and drinking, and get rid of the 
filth which remains by the lower parts; and we are sup- 
ported by eating and drinking, and that which nature refuses 
we deal with in the same way. Their care is to ward off 
death-bringing famine, and of necessity to be on the watch 
for food. What else is our aim in the business of life, which 
presses so much upon us, 2 but to seek the means by which 
the danger of starvation may be avoided, and carking anxiety 
put away ? They are exposed to disease and hunger, and at 
last lose their strength by reason of age. What, then ? are 
we not exposed to these evils, and are we not in like manner 
weakened by noxious diseases, destroyed by wasting age ? 
But if that, too, which is said in the more hidden mysteries 
is true, that the souls of wicked men, on leaving their human 
bodies, pass into cattle and other creatures, 3 it is [even] more 
clearly shown that we are allied to them, and not separated by 
any great interval, since it is on the same ground that both 
we and they are said to be living creatures, and to act as such. 
17. But we have reason, [one will say], and excel the 
whole race of dumb animals in understanding. I might 
believe that this was quite true, if all men lived rationally 
and wisely, never swerved aside from their duty, abstained 
from what is forbidden, and withheld themselves from base- 
ness, and [if] no one through folly and the blindness of 
ignorance demanded what is injurious and dangerous to 

1 So the edd., reading in totidem sexus for the MS. sexu — " into so many- 
kinds in sex." 

2 Lit., " in so great occupations of life." 

3 Cf. Plato, Phxdo, st. p. 81. 

84 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

himself. I should wish, however, to know what this reason 
is, through which we are more excellent than all the tribes 
of animals. [Is it] because we have made for ourselves 
houses, by which we can avoid the cold of winter and heat 
of summer ? What ! do not the other animals show fore- 
thought in this respect ? Do we not see some build nests as 
dwellings for themselves in the most convenient situations ; 
others shelter and secure [themselves] in rocks and lofty 
crags ; others burrow in the ground, and prepare for them- 
selves strongholds and lairs in the pits which they have duo 
out ? But if nature, which gave them life, had chosen tc 
give to them also hands to help them, they too would, with- 
out doubt, raise lofty buildings and strike out new works 
of art. 1 Yet, even in those things which they make witli 
beaks and claws, we see that there are many appearances oi 
reason and wisdom which we men are unable to copy, how- 
ever much we ponder them, although we have hands to serve 
us dexterously in every kind of work. 

18. They have not learned, [I will be told], to make cloth- 
ing, seats, ships, and ploughs, nor, in fine, the other furniture 
which family life requires. These are not the gifts of science 
but the suggestions of most pressing necessity ; nor did the 
arts descend with [men's] souls from the inmost heavens, bul 
here on earth have they all been painfully sought out anc 
brought to light, 2 and gradually acquired in process of time 
by careful thought. But if the soul 3 had [in itself] the 
knowledge which it is fitting that a race should have indeee 
[which is] divine and immortal, all men would from the firsl 
know everything ; nor would there be an age unacquaintee 
with any art, or not furnished with practical knowledge 
But now a life of want and in need of many things 

1 So, by a later writer in the margin of the MS., who gives artijiciosa-, 
novitates, adopted by Stewechius and Oehler, the s being omitted in thi 
text of the MS. itself, as in the edd., which drop the final s in the nex 
word also — "would raise and with unknown art strike out lofb 

2 Lit., "born." 

3 Throughout this discussion, Arnobius generally uses the plural 
animal — " souls." 


noticing some things happen accidentally to its advantage, 
while it imitates, experiments, and tries, while it fails, re- 
moulds, changes, from continual failure has procured for 
itself * and wrought out some slight acquaintance with the 
arts, and brought to one issue the advances of many ages. 

19. But if men either knew themselves thoroughly, or had 
the slightest knowledge of God, 2 they would never claim as 
their own a divine and immortal nature ; nor would they 
think themselves something great because they have made 
for themselves gridirons, basins, and bowls, 3 because [they 
have made] under-shirts, outer-shirts, cloaks, plaids, robes of 
state, knives, cuirasses and swords, mattocks, hatchets, 
ploughs. Never, I say, carried away by pride and arrogance, 
would they believe themselves to be deities of the first rank, 
and fellows of the highest in his exaltation, 4 because they 5 had 
devised the arts of grammar, music, oratory, and geometry. 
For we do not see what is [so] wonderful in these arts, that 
because of their discovery the soul should be believed to be 
above the sun as well as all the stars, to surpass both in 
grandeur and essence the whole universe, of which these are 
parts. For what else do these assert that they can either 
declare or teach, than that we may learn to know the rules 
and differences of nouns, the intervals in the sounds of [dif- 
ferent] tones, that we may speak persuasively in lawsuits, 
that we may measure the confines of the earth ? Now r , if 
the soul had brought these arts with it from the celestial 
regions, and it were impossible not to know them, all men 

1 So Elmenhorst, Oberthuer, and Orelli, reading par-a-v-it sibi et for 
the MS. parv-as et, " from continual failure has wrought out indeed 
slight smattering of the arts," etc., which is retained in both Roman 
edd., LB., and Hild. ; while Gelenius and Canterus merely substitute 
sibi for et, " wrought out for itself slight," etc. 

2 Lit., " or received understanding of God by the breath of any sus- 

3 The MS. gives c-etera-que, " and the rest," which is retained in both 
Roman edd., and by Gelenius and Canterus, though rather out of place, 
as the enumeration goes on. 

4 Lit., " equal to the highness (summitati) of the prince." 

8 So LB. and Orelli, reading qui-a ; the rest, qui — " who." 


would long before this be busied with them over all the 
earth, nor would any race of men be found which would not 
be equally and similarly instructed in them all. But now 
how few musicians, logicians, and geometricians are there in 
the world ! how few orators, poets, critics ! From which it 
is clear, as has been said pretty frequently, that these things 
were discovered under the pressure of time and circum- 
stances, and that the soul did not fly hither divinely 1 taught, 
because neither are all learned, nor can all learn; and 2 there 
are very many among them somewhat deficient in shrewdness, 
and stupid, and they are constrained to apply themselves to 
learning [only] by fear of stripes. But if it were a fact 
that the things which we learn are but reminiscences 3 — as 
lias been maintained in the systems of the ancients — as we 
start from the same truth, we should all have learned alike, 
and remember alike — not have diverse, very numerous, and 
inconsistent opinions. Now, however, seeing that we each 
assert different things, it is clear and manifest that we have 
brought nothing from heaven, but become acquainted with 
what has arisen here, and maintain what has taken firm root 
in our thoughts. 

20. And, that we may show you more clearly and distinctly 
what is the worth of man, whom you believe to be very like 
the higher power, conceive this idea ; and because it can be 
done if we come into direct contact with it, let us conceive 
it just as if we came into contact. Let us then imagine a 
place dug out in the earth, fit for dwelling in, formed into a 
chamber, enclosed by a roof and walls, not cold in winter, 
not too warm in summer, but so regulated and equable that 
we suffer neither cold 4 nor the violent heat of summer. To 
this let there not come any sound or cry whatever, 5 of bird, 
of beast, of storm, of man — of any noise, in fine, or of the 

1 So Gelenius, reading divinitus for the MS. divinas, i.e. " with a divine 
nature and origin," which is retained in the first ed. and Orelli. 

2 The MS., both Roman edd., Hild., and Oehler, read ut, " so that there 

3 Cf. on this Platonic doctrine, ch. 24. 

4 Lit., " a feeling of cold." 5 Lit., " sound of voice at all. 1 ' 


thunder's 1 terrible crash. Let us next devise a way in which 
it may be lighted not by the introduction of fire, nor by the 
sight of the sun, but let there be some counterfeit 2 to imi- 
tate sunlight, darkness being interposed. 3 Let there not be 
one door, nor a direct entrance, [but] let it be approached 
by tortuous windings, and let it never be thrown open unless 
when it is absolutely necessary. 

21. Now, as we have prepared a place for our idea, let us 
next receive some one born to dwell there, where there is 
nothing but an empty void, 4 — one of the race of Plato, namely, 
or Pythagoras, or some one of those who are regarded as of 
superhuman wit, or have been declared most wise by the 
oracles of the gods. And when this has been done, he must 
then be nourished and brought up on suitable food. Let 
us therefore provide a nurse also, who shall come to him 
always naked, ever silent, uttering not a word, and shall not 
open her mouth and lips to speak at all, but after suckling 
him, and doing what else is necessary, shall leave him fast 
asleep, and remain day and night before the closed doors ; 
for it is usually necessary that the nurse's care should be 
near at hand, and that [she] should watch his varying motions. 
But when the child begins to need to be supported by more 
substantial food, let it be borne in by the same nurse, still 
undressed, and maintaining the same unbroken silence. Let 
the food, too, which is carried in be always precisely the 
same, with no difference in the material, and without being 
re-cooked by means of different flavours ; but let it be either 
pottage of millet, or bread of spelt, or, in imitation of the 
ancients, chestnuts roasted in the hot ashes, or berries plucked 

1 Lit., " of heaven terribly crashing." 

2 So the later edd., adopting the emendation of Scaliger, notlium — 
" spurious," which here seems to approach in meaning to its use by 
Lucretius (v. 574 sq.), of the moon's light as borrowed from the sun. 
The MS. and first four edd. read notum, " known." 

3 According to Huet (quoted by Oehler), " between that spurious and 
the true light;" but perhaps the idea is that of darkness interposed at 
intervals to resemble the recurrence of night. 

4 Lit., "born, and that, too (et wanting in almost all edd.), into the 
hospice of that place which has nothing, and is inane and empty." 

88 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

from forest trees. Let him, moreover, never learn to drink 
wine, and let nothing else be used to quench his thirst than 
pure cold water from the spring, and [that] if possible raised 
to his lips in the hollow of his hands. For habit, growing 
into [second] nature, will become familiar from custom ; nor 
will his desire extend 1 further, not knowing that there is 
[anything] more to be sought after. 

22. To what, then, [you ask], do these things tend ? 
[We have brought them forward] in order that — as it has 
been believed that the souls [of men] are divine, and there- 
fore immortal, and that they come to their human bodies 
with all knowledge — we may make trial from this [child], 
whom we have supposed to be brought up in this way, 
whether this is credible, or has been rashly believed and 
taken for granted, in consequence of deceitful anticipation. 
Let us suppose, then, that he grows up, reared in a secluded, 
lonely spot, spending as many years as you choose, twenty or 
thirty, — nay, let him be brought into the assemblies of men 
when he has lived through forty years ; and if it is true that 
he is a part of the divine essence, and ' lives here sprung 
from the fountains of life, before he makes acquaintance 
with anything, or is made familiar with human speech, let 
him be questioned and answer who he is, or from what 
father ; in what regions he was born, how or in what way 
brought up ; with what work or business he has been en- 
gaged during the former part of his life. "Will he not, then, 
stand [speechless], with less wit and sense than any beast, 
block, stone ? Will he not, when brought into contact with 3 
strange and previously unknown things, be above all ignorant 
of himself? If you ask, will he be able to say what the 
sun is, the earth, seas, stars, clouds, mist, showers, thunder, 

1 So most edd., reading porrigetur for the MS. corrigetur — ■ ' be corrected," 
i.e. need to be corrected, which is retained in the first ed. 

2 So Gelenius, followed by Canterns, Elmenh., and Oberthiir, reading 
portione-m et, while the words tarn lxtam, " that he is so joyous a part," 
are inserted before et by Stewechius and the rest, except both Roman 
edd., which retain the MS. porticme jam Ixta. 

3 Lit., " sent to." 


snow, hail ? Will he be able to know what trees are, herbs, 
or grasses, a bull, a horse, or ram, a camel, elephant, or kite I 1 
23. If you give a grape to him when hungry, a must- 
cake, an onion, a thistle, 2 a cucumber, a fig, will he know 
that his hunger can be appeased by all these, or of what 
kind each should be [to be fit] for eating? 3 If you made a 
very great fire, or surrounded him with venomous creatures, 
will he not go through the midst of flames, vipers, taran- 
tula?, 4 without knowing that they are dangerous, and ignorant 
even of fear? But again, if you set before him garments 
and furniture, both for city and country life, will he indeed 
be able to distinguish 5 for what each is fitted ? to discharge 
what service they are adapted? Will he declare for what 
purposes of dress the stragula 6 was made, the coif, 7 zone, 8 
fillet, cushion, handkerchief, cloak, veil, napkin, furs, 9 shoe, 
sandal, boot ? What, if you go on to ask what a wheel is, or 
a sledge, 10 a winno wing-fan, jar, tub, an oil-mill, plough- 
share, or sieve, a mill-stone, plough-tail, or light hoe ; a 
curved seat, a needle, a strigil, a laver, an open seat, a ladle, 
a platter, a candlestick, a goblet, a broom, a cup, a bag ; a 
lyre, pipe, silver, brass, gold, 11 a book, a rod, a roll, 12 and 
the rest of the equipment by which the life of man is sur- 

1 So the MS., reading milvus, for which all edd. (except Oberthuer) 
since Stewechius read mains, " a mule." 

2 Carduus, no doubt the esculent thistle, a kind of artichoke. 

3 So, according to an emendation in LB., esui, adopted by Orelli and 
others, instead of the MS. reading et sui. 

4 There has been much discussion as to whether the solifuga or soli- 
puga here spoken of is an ant or spider. 

5 The ms. reads discriminare, discernere, with the latter word, how- 
ever, marked as spurious. 

6 A kind of rug. 7 Mitra. 

8 Strophium, passing round the breast, by some regarded as a kind of 

9 Mastraca, a garment made of the skins of the mujlone, a Sardinian 
wild sheep. 

10 Tribula, for rubbing out the corn. 

11 Aurum is omitted in all edd., except those of LB., Hild., and Oehler. 

12 Liber, a roll of parchment or papyrus, as opposed to the preceding 
codex, a book of pages. 

90 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

rounded and maintained? "Will he not in such circum- 
stances, as we said, like an ox 1 or an ass, a pig, or any beast 
more senseless, look 2 at these indeed, observing their various 
shapes, but 3 not knowing what they all are, and ignorant of 
the purpose for which they are kept? If he were in any 
way compelled to utter a sound, would he not with gaping 
mouth shout something indistinctly, as the dumb usually 

24. Why, O Plato, do you in the Meno 4 put to a young 
slave certain questions relating to the doctrines of number, 
and strive to prove by his answers that what we learn we do 
not learn, but that we [merely] call back to memory those 
things which we knew in former times ? Now, if he answers 
you correctly (for it would not be becoming that we should re- 
fuse credit to what you say), he is led [to do so] not by his real 
knowledge, 5 but by his intelligence ; and it results from his 
having some acquaintance with numbers, through using them 
every day, that when questioned he follows [your meaning], 
and that the very process of multiplication always prompts 
him. But if you are really assured that the souls [of men 
are] immortal and endowed with knowledge [when they] fly 
hither, cease to question that youth whom you see to be 
ignorant c and accustomed to the ways of men : 7 call to you 
that man of forty years, and ask of him, not anything out 
of the way or obscure about triangles, about squares, [not] 

1 The MS. reads vobis unintelligibly, corrected by Meursius bovis. 

2 So Orelli and modern edd. ; but Crusius gives as the MS. reading 
conspici-ctur (not -et), as given by Ursinus, and commonly received — 
"Will he not. . .be seen?" 

3 The MS. and first five edd. read et — " and," changed in LB. to sed. 

4 In this dialogue (st. p. 81) Socrates brings forward the doctrine of 
reminiscence as giving a reasonable ground for the pursuit of know- 
ledge, and then proceeds to give a practical illustration of it by leading 
an uneducated slave to solve a mathematical problem by means of 
question and answer. 

5 Lit., "his knowledge of things." 

6 So the MS. and edd., reading i-gnarum rerum, except LB., which by 
merely omitting the i gives the more natural meaning, "acquainted 
with the things," etc. 

7 Lit., " established in the limits of humanity." 


what a cube is, or a second power, 1 the ratio of nine to eight, 
or finally, of four to three ; but ask him that with which all 
are acquainted — what twice two are, or twice three. We 
wish to see, we wish to know, what answer he gives when 
questioned — whether he solves the desired problem. In such 
a case will he perceive, although his ears are open, whether 
you are saying anything, or asking anything, or requiring 
some answer from him? and will he not stand like. a stock, 
or the Marpesian rock, 2 as the saying is, dumb and speech- 
less, not understanding or knowing even this — whether you 
are talking with him or with another, conversing with an- 
other or with him; 3 whether that is intelligible speech which 
you utter, or [merely] a cry having no meaning, but drawn 
out and protracted to no purpose ? 

25. What say you, O men, who assign to yourselves too 
much of an excellence not your own ? Is this the learned 
soul which you describe, immortal, perfect, divine, holding 
the fourth place under God the Lord of the universe, and 
under the kindred spirits, 4 and proceeding from the fountains 
of life? 5 This is that precious [being] man, endowed 6 with 
the loftiest powers of reason, who is said [to be] a micro- 
cosm, and [to be] made and formed after the fashion of the 
whole [universe], superior, as has been seen, to no brute, 
more senseless than stock [or] stone ; for he is unacquainted 
with men, and always lives, loiters idly in the still deserts 

1 i.e. a square numerically or algebraically. The MS., both Roman 
edd., and Canterus read di-bus aut dynam-us, the former word being 
defended by Meursius as equivalent to binio, " a doubling," — a sense, 
however, in which it does not occur. In the other edd., cubus aut 
dynamis has been received from the margin of Ursinus. 

2 JEneid, vi. 472. 

3 This clause is with reason rejected by Meursius as a gloss. 

4 Founded on Plato's words (Phsedrus, st. p. 247), tw 8' (i.e. Zeus) 
sttstxi orpxTici, fawv re Kctl lioapovav, the doctrine became prevalent that 
under the supreme God were lesser gods made by him, beneath whom 
again were daemons, while men stood next. To this Orelli supposes that 
Arnobius here refers. 

5 The vessels in which, according to Plato (Timseus, st. p. 41), the 
Supreme Being mixed the vital essence of all being. Cf. c. 52. 

6 Lit., " and endowed." 

92 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

although he were rich, 1 lived years without number, and 
never escaped from the bonds of the body. But when he 
goes to school, [you say], and is instructed by the teaching 
of masters, he is made wise, learned, and lays aside the 
ignorance which till now clunsj to him. And an ass, and an 
ox as well, if compelled by constant practice, learn to plough 
and grind; a horse, to submit to the yoke, and obey the 
reins in running ; 2 a camel, to kneel down when being either 
loaded or unloaded ; a dove, when set free, to fly back to its 
master's house ; a dog, on finding game, to check and repress 
its barking ; a parrot, too, to articulate words ; and a crow 
to utter names. 

26. But when I hear the soul spoken of as something ex- 
traordinary, as akin and very nigh to God, [and] as coming 
hither knowing all about past times, I would have it teach, 
not learn ; and not go back to the rudiments, as the say- 
ing is, after being advanced in knowledge, but hold fast 
the truths it has learned when it enters its earthly body. 3 
For unless it were so, how could it be discerned whether [the 
soul] recalls to memory or learns [for the first time] that 
which it hears ; seeing that it is much easier to believe that 
it learns what it is unacquainted with, than that it has for- 
got what it knew [but] a little before, and that its power of 
recalling former things is lost through the interposition of 
the body? And what becomes of the doctrine that souls, 
[being] bodiless, do not have substance ? For that which is 
not connected with 4 any bodily form is not hampered by the 
opposition of another, nor can anything be led 5 to destroy 
that which cannot be touched by what is set against it. For 

1 The text and meaning are both rather doubtful, and the edd. vary 
exceedingly. The reading of Orelli, demoretur inei's, valeat in sere 
quamvis, has been translated as most akin to the MS., with which, ac- 
cording to Oehler, it agrees, although Orelli himself gives the MS. 
reading as aer-io. 

2 Lit., "acknowledge turnings in the course." 

3 Lit., "but retaining its own things, bind itself in earthly bodies." 
* Lit., " of." 

5 So the MS. and edd., reading sua-de-ri, for which Oehler reads very 
neatly sua de vi — "can anything of its own power destroy," etc. 


as a proportion established in bodies remains unaffected and 
secure, though it be lost to sight in a thousand cases ; so 
must souls, if they are not material, as is asserted, retain 
their knowledge 1 of the past, however thoroughly they may 
have been enclosed in bodies. 2 Moreover, the same reason- 
ing not only shows that they are not incorporeal, but deprives 
them of all 3 immortality even, and refers them to the limits 
within which life is usually closed. For whatever is led by 
some inducement to change and alter itself, so that it cannot 
retain its natural state, must of necessity be considered 
essentially passive. But that which is liable and exposed to 
suffering, is declared to be corruptible by that very capacity 
of suffering. 

27. So then, if souls lose all their knowledge on being 
fettered with the body, they must experience something of 
such a nature that it makes them become blindly forgetful. 4 
For they cannot, without becoming subject to anything what- 
ever, either lay aside their knowledge while they maintain 
their natural state, or without change in themselves pass into 
a different state. Nay, we rather think that what is one, im- 
mortal, simple, in whatever it may be, must always retain its 
own nature, and that it neither should nor could be subject 
to anything, if indeed it purposes to endure and abide within 
the limits of true immortality. For all suffering is a passage 
for death and destruction, a way leading to the grave, and 
bringing an end of life which may not be escaped from ; 
and if souls are liable to it, and yield to its influence and 
assaults, they indeed have life given to them only for present 
use, not as a secured possession, 5 although some come to 
other conclusions, and put faith in their own arguments 
with regard to so important a matter. 

28. And yet, that w r e may not be as ignorant when we 

1 Lit., " not suffer forgetfulness." 

2 Lit., ''however the most solid unions of bodies may have bound 
them round." 

3 So the edd.,Teadmgprivatimmortalitate hasomni, for which, according 
to Hildebrand, the MS. reads -tatem has omnis— "all these of immortality." 

4 Lit., "put on the blindness of oblivion." 

5 Cf. Lucretius, iii. 969, where life is thus spoken of. 

94 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

leave you [as before], let us hear from you * how you say 
that the soul, on being enwrapt in an earthly body, has no 
recollection of the past ; while, after being actually placed 
in the body itself, and rendered almost senseless by union 
with it, it holds tenaciously and faithfully the things which 
many years before, eighty if you choose to say [so], or even 
more, it either did, or suffered, or said, or heard. For if, 
through being hampered by the body, it does not remember 
those things which it knew long ago, and before it came into 
this world, 2 there is more reason that it should forget those 
things which it has done from time to time since being shut 
up in the body, than those which [it did] before entering it, 3 
while not yet connected with men. For the same body which 4 
deprives of memory the soul which enters it, 5 should cause 
what is done within itself also to be wholly forgotten ; for one 
cause cannot bring about two results, and [these] opposed to 
each other, so as to make some things to be forgotten, [and] 
allow others to be remembered by him who did them. But 
if souls, as you call them, are prevented and hindered by 
their [fleshly] members from recalling their former know- 
ledge, 6 how do they remember what has been arranged 7 in 
[these] very bodies, and know that they are spirits, and have 

1 The MS. reads ne videamu-s, changed in both Roman edd. into -amur 
— "that we may not be seen by yon [as ignorant], how say you," etc. 
Gelenius proposed the reading of the text, audiamus, which has been 
received by Canterus and Orelli. It is clear from the next words — 
quemadmodum dicitis — that in this case the verb must be treated as a 
kind of interjection, " How say you, let us hear." LB. reads, to much 
the same purpose, scire avemus, "we desire to know." 

2 Lit., "before man." 3 Lit., " placed outside." 
4 Quod enim. 6 Rebus ingressis. 

6 So read by Orelli, artes snas antiquas, omitting atque, which, he says, 
follows in the MS. It is read after suas, however, in the first ed., and 
those of Gelenius, Canterus, Hildebrand ; and according to Oehler, it 
is so given in the MS., "its own and ancient." Oberthiir would supply 
res — "its own arts and ancient things." 

7 So the MS., reading cojistitut-a, followed by all edd. except those of 
Ursinus, Hildebrand, and Oehler, who read -«, " how do they remem- 
ber when established in the bodies," which is certainly more in accord- 
ance with the context. 


no bodily substance, being exalted by their condition as im- 
mortal beings ? 1 [how do they know] what rank they hold 
in the universe, in what order they have been set apart 
[from other beings] ? how they have come to these, the 
lowest parts of the universe ? what properties they acquired, 
and from what circles, 2 in gliding along towards these 
regions ? How, I say, do they know that they were very 
learned, and have lost their knowledge by the hindrance 
which their bodies afford them ? For of this very thing 
also they should have been ignorant, whether their union 
with the body had brought any stain upon them; for to 
know what you were, and what to-day you are not, is no 
sign that you have lost your memory, 3 but a proof and evi- 
dence that it is quite sound. 4 

29. Now, since it is so, cease, I pray you, cease to rate 
trifling and unimportant things at immense values. Cease 
to place man in the upper ranks, since he is of the lowest ; 
and in the highest orders, seeing that his person only is 
taken account of, 5 that he is needy, poverty-stricken in his 
house and dwelling, 6 and [was] never entitled to be declared 
of illustrious descent. For while, as just men and upholders 
of righteousness, you should have subdued pride and arro- 
gance, by the evils 7 of which we are all uplifted and puffed 
up with empty vanity ; you not only hold that these evils 
arise naturally, but — and this is much worse — you have also 
added causes by which vice should increase, and wickedness 
remain incorrigible. For what man is there, although of a 
disposition which ever shuns what is of bad repute and 
shameful, who, when he hears it said by very wise men that 
the soul is immortal, and not subject to the decrees of the 
fates, 8 would not throw himself headlong into all kinds of 

1 Lit., " of immortality." 2 Cf. ch. xvi. p. 82. 

3 Lit., " of a lost memory." 4 Lit., " of [a memory] preserved." 

5 Capite cum censeatur. 

6 Lit., " poor in hearth, and of a poor hut." 

7 So the MS., reading mails, for which Ursinus suggested alls, " on the 
wings of which." 

8 i.e. to death. 


vice, [and] fearlessly 1 engage in and set about unlawful 
things? [who] would not, in short, gratify his desires in all 
things demanded by his unbridled lust, strengthened even 
further by its security and freedom from punishment 1 2 
For what will hinder him from doing so f The fear of a 
power above and divine judgment ? And how shall he be 
overcome by any fear or dread who has been persuaded that 
he is immortal, just as the supreme God himself, and that 
no sentence can be pronounced upon him by God, seeing 
that there is the same immortality in both, and that the one 
immortal being cannot be troubled by the other, which is 
[only] its equal ? 3 

30. But [will he not be terrified by] 4 the punishments in 
Hades, of which w r e have heard, assuming also [as they do] 
many forms of torture ? And who 5 will be so senseless and 
ignorant of consequences, 6 as to believe that to imperishable 
spirits either the darkness of Tartarus, or rivers of fire, or 
marshes with miry abysses, or wheels sent whirling through 
the air, 7 can in any wise do harm ? For that which is 
beyond reach, and not subject to the laws of destruction, 
though it be surrounded by all the flames of the raging 
streams, be rolled in the mire, overwhelmed by the fall of 
overhanging rocks and by the overthrow of huge mountains, 

1 The MS. reads securus, intrepidus — "heedless, fearless;" the form or 
word, however, being marked as a gloss. It is rejected in all edd., 
except LB. 

2 Lit., " by the freedom of impunity." 

8 Lit., " the one [immortality] ... in respect of the equality of con- 
dition of the other " — nee in alterius \immortalitatis~\ altera [immortali- 
tatas] possit sequalitate conditionis vexari ; the reference being clearly to 
the immediately preceding clause, with which it is so closely connected 
logically and grammatically. Orelli, however, would supply anima, dz-o 
tov koimv, as he puts it, of which nothing need be said. Meursius, with 
customary boldness, emends nee vi alterius altera, "nor by the power of 
one can the other," etc. 

4 So the ellipse is usually supplied, but it seems simpler and is more 
natural thus : "But punishments [have been] spoken of" (rnemorataz), etc. 

5 So MS. and Oehler, for which the edd. read ec quis, " will any one." 

6 Lit, " the consequences of things." 

7 Lit., "the moving of wheels whirling." 


must remain safe and untouched without suffering any 
deadly harm. 

Moreover, that conviction not only leads on to wickedness, 
from the very freedom to sin [which it suggests], but even 
takes away the ground of philosophy itself, and asserts that 
it is vain to undertake its study, because of the difficulty of 
the work, which leads to no result. For if it is true that 
souls know no end, and are ever 1 advancing with all gene- 
rations, what danger is there in giving themselves up to the 
pleasures of sense — despising and neglecting the virtues by 
[regard to] which life is more stinted [in its pleasures], and 
[becomes] less attractive — and in letting loose their bound- 
less lust to range eagerly and unchecked through 2 all kinds 
of debauchery? [Is it the danger] of being worn out by 
such pleasures, and corrupted by vicious effeminacy ? And 
how can that be corrupted which is immortal, which 
always exists, and [is] subject to no suffering 1 [Is it the 
danger] of being polluted by foul and base deeds I And 
how can that be defiled which has no corporeal substance ; 
or where can corruption seat itself, where there is no place 
on which the mark of this very corruption should fasten ? 

But again, if souls draw near to the gates of death, 3 
as is laid down in the doctrine of Epicurus, in this case, 
too, there is no sufficient reason why ' philosophy should 
be sought out, even if it is true that by it 4 souls are 
cleansed and made pure from all uncleanness. 5 For if 

1 Lit., " in the unbroken course of ages" — perpetuitate xvorum. 

2 Lit., " and to scatter the unbridled eagerness of boundless lust 
through," etc. 

3 Lucretius (iii. 417 sqq.) teaches at great length that the soul and 
mind are mortal, on the ground that they consist of atoms smaller than 
those of vapour, so that, like it, on the breaking of their case, they 
•will be scattered abroad ; next, on the ground of the analogy between 
them and the body in regard to disease, suffering, etc. ; of their igno- 
rance of the past, and want of developed qualities ; and finally, on the 
ground of the adaptation of the soul to the body, as of a fish to the sea, 
so that life under other conditions would be impossible. 

4 The MS. and first four edd. read has, "that these souls," etc. ; in the 
other edd., Tiac is received as above from the margin of Ursinus. 

5 Cf. Plato, Phxdo (st. p. 64 sq.), where death is spoken of as only a 

98 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

they all 1 die, and even in the hody 2 the feeling characte- 
ristic of life perishes, and is lost ; 3 it is not only a very great 
mistake, but [shows] stupid blindness, to curb innate desires, 
to restrict your mode of life within narrow limits, not yield 
to your inclinations, and do what our passions have de- 
manded and urged, since no rewards await you for so great 
toil when the day of death comes, and you shall be freed 
from the bonds of the body. 

31. A certain neutral character, then, and undecided 
and doubtful nature of the soul, has made room for philo- 
sophy, and found out a reason for its being sought after : 
while, that is, that fellow 4 is full of dread because of evil 
deeds of which he is guilty ; another conceives great hopes 
if he shall do no evil, and pass his life in obedience to 5 duty 
and justice. Thence it is that among learned men, and 
[men] endowed with excellent abilities, there is strife as to 
the nature of the soul, and some say that it is subject to 
death, and cannot take upon itself the divine substance ; 
while others [maintain] that it is immortal, and cannot sink 
under the power of death. 6 But this is brought about by 
the law of [the soul's] neutral character : 7 because, on the 
one hand, arguments present themselves to the one party by 
which it is found that the soul 8 is capable of suffering, and 
perishable ; and, on the other hand, are not wanting to their 

carrying further of that separation of the soul from the pleasures and im- 
perfections of the body which the philosopher strives to effect in this life. 
1 Lit,, " in common." 2 PI. 

3 This refers to the second argument of Lucretius noticed above. 

4 i.e. the abandoned and dissolute immortal spoken of in last chapter. 

5 Lit., "with." c Lit., " degenerate into mortal nature." 

7 Arnobius seems in this chapter to refer to the doctrine of the Stoics, 
that the soul must be material, because, unless body and soul were of one 
substance, there could be no common feeling or mutual affection (so 
Cleanthes in Nemes. de Nat. Horn. ii. p. 33) ; and to that held by some 
of them, that only the souls of the wise remained after death, and these 
only till the conflagration (Stob. Eel. Phys. p. 372) which awaits the 
world, and ends the Stoic great year or cycle. Others, however, held 
that the souls of the wise became daemons and demigods (Diog. Laert. 
vii. 157 and 151). 

8 Lit., "they"— eas. 


opponents, by which it is shown that the soul is divine and 

32. Since these things are so, and we have been taught 
by the greatest teacher that souls are set not far from the 
gaping 1 jaws of death ; that they can, nevertheless, have 
their lives prolonged by the favour and kindness of the 
Supreme Ruler, if only they try and study to know him (for 
the knowledge of him is a kind of vital leaven 2 and cement 
to bind together that which would otherwise fly apart), — let 
them, 3 then, laying aside their savage and barbarous nature, 
return to gentler ways, that they may be able to be ready 
for that which shall be given. 4 What reason is there that 
we should be considered by you brutish, as it were, and 
stupid, if we have yielded and given ourselves up to God 
our deliverer, because of these fears ? We often seek out 
remedies for wounds and the poisoned bites of serpents, and 
defend ourselves by means of thin plates 5 sold by Psylli 6 or 
Marsi, and other hucksters 7 and impostors ; and that we 
may not be inconvenienced by cold or intense heat, s we 
provide with anxious and careful diligence coverings in 9 
houses and clothing. 

1 Lit., "from the gapings and," etc. 

2 There may be here some echo of the words (John xvii. 3), " This is 
eternal life, that they may know thee, the only true God," etc. ; but 
there is certainly not sufficient similarity to found a direct reference on, 
as has been done by Orelli and others. 

3 i.e. souls. 

4 This passage presents no difficulty in itself, its sense being obviously 
that, as by God's grace life is given to those who serve him, we must 
strive to fit ourselves to receive his blessing. The last words, however, 
have seemed to some fraught with mystery, and have been explained by 
Heraldus at some length as a veiled or confused reference to the Lord's 
Supper, as following upon baptism and baptismal regeneration, which, 
he supposes, are referred to in the preceding words, "laying aside," etc. 

5 These "thin plates," laminss, Orelli has suggested, were amulets 
worn as a charm against serpents. 

6 MS. Phyllis. 

7 So the edd., reading instit - oribus for the MS. instit-ut-oribus, 
" makers." 

8 Lit., " that colds and violent suns may not," etc. 
8 Lit., "of." 

100 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ir. 

33. Seeing that the fear of death, that is, the ruin of our 
souls, menaces 1 us, in what are we not acting, as we all are 
wont, from a sense of what will be to our advantage, 2 in that 
we hold him fast who assures us that he will be our de- 
liverer from such danger, embrace [him], and entrust our 
souls to his care, 3 if only that 4 interchange is right ? You 
rest the salvation of your souls on yourselves, and are assured 
that by your own exertions alone 6 you become gods ; but we, 
on the contrary, hold out no hope to ourselves from our own 
weakness, for we see that our nature has no strength, and is 
overcome by its own passions in every strife for anything. 6 
You think that, as soon as you pass away, freed from the 
bonds of your fleshly members, you will find wings 7 with 
which you may rise to heaven and soar to the stars. We shun 
such presumption, and do not think 8 that it is in our power 
to reach the abodes 9 above, since we have no certainty as to 
this even, whether we deserve to receive life and be freed 
from the law of death. You suppose that without the aid of 
others 10 you will return to the master's palace as if to your 
own home, no one hindering [you] ; but we, on the contrary, 
neither have any expectation that this can be unless by [the 
will of] the Lord of all, nor think that so much power and 
licence are given to any man. 

34. Since this is the case, what, pray, is so unfair as that 
we should be looked on by you as silly in that readiness 
of belief [at which you scoff], while we see that you both 

1 Lit., " is set before." 

2 So the MS., first ed., Gelenius, Canterus, Hildebrand, reading ex corn- 
modi sensu, for which all the other edd., following Ursinus and Meursius, 
read ex communi — " from common sense," i.e. wisely. 

3 Perhaps, as Orelli evidently understands it, " prefer him to our own 
souls " — animis iirseponimus. 

4 So Oehler, reading ea for the MS. ut, omitted in all edd. 

5 Lit., " by your own and internal exertion." 

6 Lit., " of things." 7 Lit., " wings will be at hand." 

8 The MS. reads t/i-cimus, " say ; " corrected du, as above. 

9 The first four edd. read res, " things above," for which Stewechius 
reads, as above, sedes. 

10 Sponte. 


have like beliefs, and entertain the same hopes ? If we are 
thought deserving of ridicule because we hold out to our- 
selves such a hope, the same ridicule awaits you too, who 
claim for yourselves the hope of immortality. If you hold 
and follow a rational course, grant to us also a share in it. 
If Plato in the Phcedrus, 1 or another of this band [of philo- 
sophers], had promised these joys to us — that is, a way to 
escape death, or were able to provide it and bring [us] to the 
end which he had promised, 2 it would have been fitting that 
we should seek to honour him from whom we look for so 
great a gift and favour. Now, since Christ has not only pro- 
mised it, but also shown by his virtues, [which were] so great, 
that it can be made good, what strange thing do we do, and 
on what grounds are we charged with folly, if we bow down 
and worship his name 3 and majesty from whom we expect [to 
receive] both [these blessings], that we may at once escape 
a death of suffering, and be enriched with eternal life? 4 

35. But, say [my opponents], if souls are mortal and 5 of 
neutral character, how can they from their neutral pro- 
perties become immortal 1 If we should say that we do not 
know this, and only believe it because said by 6 [one] mightier 
[than we], when will our readiness of belief seem mistaken 
if we believe 7 that to the almighty King nothing is hard, 

1 Here, as in c. 7, n. 3, p. 69, the edd. read Phxdone, with the excep- 
tion of the first ed. LB., Hildebrand, and Oehler, who follow the US. as 

2 Lit., "to the end of promising." 

3 Meursius suggests numini, " deity," on which it may he well to 
remark once for all, that nomen and numen are in innumerable places 
interchanged in one or other of the edd. The change, however, is 
usually of so little moment, that no further notice will be taken of it. 

4 So the MS., according to Rigaltius and Hildebrand, reading vitte 
seternitate, while Crusius asserts that the MS. gives vita et — " with life 
and eternity." 

5 The MS. reading is, mortalis est qualitatis. The first five edd. merely 
drop est — "of mortal, of neutral," etc.; LB. and the others read, es et, 
as above. 

6 Lit., "heard from." 

7 So the ms., according to Crusius, the edd. reading cred-id-imus — 
" have believed." 

102 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

nothing difficult, and that 1 what is impossible to us is pos- 
sible to him and at his command ? 2 For is there [anything] 
which may withstand his will, or does it not follow 3 of 
necessity that what he has willed [must] be done ? Are we 
to infer from our distinctions what either can or cannot be 
done ; and are we not to consider that our reason is as mortal 
as we ourselves are, and is of no importance with the Supreme? 
And yet, O ye who do not believe that the soul is of a 
neutral character, and that it is held on the line midway 
between life and death, are not all whatever whom fancy 
supposes to exist, gods, angels, daemons, or whatever else is 
their name, themselves too of a neutral character, and liable 
to change 4 in the uncertainty of their future? 6 For if we 
all agree that there is one Father of all, [who] alone [is] im- 
mortal and unbegotten, and [if] nothing at all is found before 
him which could be named, 6 it follows as a consequence that 
all these whom the imagination of men believes to be gods, 
have been either begotten by him or produced at his bidding. 
Are they 7 produced and begotten? they are also later in 
order and time : if later in order and time, they must have an 
origin, and beo-inninp- of birth and life ; but that which has 
an entrance [into] and beginning of life in its first stages, it 
of necessity follows, should have an end also. 

36. But the gods are said to be immortal. Not by nature, 
then, but by the goodwill and favour of God their father. 
In the same way, then, in which the boon 8 of immortality is 

1 Lit., "if [we believe] that." 

2 So the MS., reading ad modum dbsecutionis paratum — " prepared to 
the mode of compliance ;" for which the edd. read adm. executioni — 
"quite prepared for performing," except Hildebrand, who gives adm. 
ohsecutioni — u for obedience." 

3 So the MS., according to Crusius, but all edd. read sequ-a-tur (for i) 
— " Is there anything which he has willed which it does not follow," etc. 

4 So all edd., reading mutabiles, except the two Roman edd. and Oehler, 
who gives, as the reading of the MS. int. — " tottering." 

5 Lit., " in the doubtful condition of their lot." 

6 Lit., " which may have been of a name." 

7 LB., followed by the later edd., inserted si, "if they are," which is 
certainly more consistent with the rest of the sentence. 

8 The MS. reading is utterly corrupt and meaningless — immortalitatis 


God's gift to [these who were] assuredly produced, 1 will he 
deign to confer eternal life upon souls also, although fell 
death seems able to cut them off and blot them out of exist- 
ence in utter annihilation. 2 The divine Plato, many of 
whose thoughts are worthy of God, and not such as the 
vulgar hold, in that discussion and treatise entitled the 
Timceus, says that the gods and the world are corruptible 
by nature, and in no wise beyond the reach of death, but 
that their being is ever maintained 3 by the will of God, [their] 
king and prince : 4 for that that [even] which has been duly 
clasped and bound together by the surest bands is preserved 
[only] by God's goodness ; and that by no other than 5 by 
him who bound [their elements] together can they both be 
dissolved if necessary, and have the command given which pre- 
serves their being. If this is the case, then, and it is not fitting 
to think or believe otherwise, why do you wonder that we 
speak of the soul as neutral in its character, when Plato says 
that it is so even with the deities, 7 but that their life is kept 

largiter est donum dei certa prolatis. Gelenins, followed by Canterus, 
Oberthur, and Orelli, emended largi-tio . . . certe, as above. The two 
Roman edd. read, -tatem largitus . . . certain — " bestowed, assured im- 
mortality as God's gift on," etc. 

1 i.e., who must therefore have received it if they have it at all. 

2 Lit., " out, reduced to nothing with annihilation, not to be returned 

3 Lit., " they are held in a lasting bond," i.e. of being. 

4 Plato makes the supreme God, creator of the inferior deities, assure 
these lesser gods that their created nature being in itself subject to 
dissolution, his will is a surer ground on which to rely for immortality, 
than the substance or mode of their own being (Timseus, st. p. 41 ; trans- 
lated by Cicero, de Univ. xi., and criticised de Nat. Deor. i. 8 and hi. 12). 

5 The MS. and both Eoman edd. read neque ullo db-olitio-nis unintel- 
ligibly, for which Gelenius proposed nexasque abolitione—" and by the 
destruction of the bond ;" but the much more suitable reading in the 
margin of Ursinus, translated above, ullo ab alio nis-i, has been adopted 
by later edd. 

6 Lit., " be gifted with a saving order." So the MS., reading salutari 
iussione, followed by both Eoman edd. ; LB. and Orelli read vinctione 
—"bond;" Gelenius, : Canterus, Elmenh., and Oberthuer, m-issione— 
" dismissal." 

7 Lit., " that to the gods themselves the natures are intermediate." 

104 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

Up by God's 1 grace, without break or end ? For if by chance 
you knew it not, and because of its novelty it was unknown 
to you before, [now, though] late, receive and learn from him 
who knows and has made it known, Christ, that souls are 
not the children of the supreme ruler, and did not begin to 
be self-conscious, and to be spoken of in their own special 
character after being created by him ; 2 but that some other is 
their parent, far enough removed from the chief in rank and 
power, of his court, however, and distinguished by his high 
and exalted birthright 

37. But if souls were, as is said, the Lord's children, and 
begotten by 3 the supreme power, nothing would have been 
wanting to make them perfect, [as they would have been] 
born with the most perfect excellence : they would all have 
had one mind, and [been of] one accord ; they would always 
dwell in the royal palace ; and would not, passing by the 
seats of bliss in which they had learned and kept in mind the 
noblest teachings, rashly seek these regions of earth, that 4 
they might live enclosed in gloomy bodies amid phlegm and 
blood, anions* these ba^s of filth and most dissmstins: 5 vessels 


of urine. But, [an opponent will say], it was necessary that 
these parts too should be peopled, and therefore Almighty 
God sent souls hither to [form] some colonies, as it were. 
And of what use are men to the world, and on account of 
what are they necessary, 6 so that they may not be believed to 

1 Lit., " supreme " — principali. 

2 Cf. i. 48. On this passage Orelli quotes Irenaeus, i. 21, where are 
enumerated several gnostic theories of the creation of the world and men 
by angels, who are themselves created by the "one unknown Father." 
Arnobius is thought, both by Orelli and others, to share in these opinions, 
and in this discussion to hint at them, but obscurely, lest his cosmology 
should be confounded by the Gentiles with their own polytheistic system. 
It seems much more natural to suppose that we have here the indefinite 
statement of opinions not thoroughly digested. 

3 Lit., " a generation of." 

4 Canterus, Elmenhorst, Oberthuer, and Orelli omit ut, which is re- 
tained as above by the rest. 

5 Lit., " obscene." 

6 Elmenhorst endeavours to show that Arnobius coincides in this argu- 
ment with the Epicureans, by quoting Lucr. v. 1G5 sqq. andLact. vii. 5, 


have been destined to live here and be the tenants of an 
earthly body for no purpose ! They have a share, [my oppo- 
nent says,] in perfecting the completeness of this immense 
mass, and without their addition this whole universe is in- 
complete and imperfect. What then? If there were not 
men, would the world cease to discharge its functions ? would 
the stars not go through their changes? would there not 
be summers and winters ? would the blasts of the winds be 
lulled? and from the clouds gathered and hanging [over- 
head] would not the showers come down upon the earth to 
temper droughts ? But now 1 all things must go on in their 
own courses, and not give up following the arrangement 
established by nature, even if there should be no name of 
man heard in the world, and this earth should be still with 
the silence of an unpeopled desert. How then is it alleged 
that it was necessary that an inhabitant should be given to 
these regions, since it is clear that by man comes nothing 
to [aid in] perfecting the world, and that all his exertions 
regard his private convenience always, and never cease to 
aim at his own advantage ? 

38. For, to begin with what is important, what advantage 
is it to the world that the mightiest kings are here ? What, 
that there are tyrants, lords, [and] other innumerable and 
very illustrious powers? What, that there are generals of 
the greatest experience in war, skilled in taking cities ; 
soldiers steady and utterly invincible in battles of cavalry, 
or in fighting hand to hand on foot? What, that there 
are orators, grammarians, poets, writers, logicians, musi- 
cians, ballet-dancers, mimics, actors, singers, trumpeters, flute 
and reed players? What, that there are runners, boxers, 
charioteers, vaulters, 2 walkers on stilts, rope-dancers, jugglers ? 

where the Epicurean argument is brought forward, What profit has God 
in man, that he should have created him ? In doing this, it seems not 
to have been observed that the question asked by Arnobius is a very 
different one : What place has man in the icorld, that God should be 
supposed to have sent him to fill it ? 

1 i.e. so far from this being the case. 

2 i.e. from one horse to another — desultores. 

10G . THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

What, that there are dealers in salt fish, salters, fishmongers, 
perfumers, goldsmiths, bird-catchers, weavers of winnowing 
fans and baskets of rushes 1 What, that there are fullers, 
workers in wool, embroiderers, cooks, confectioners, dealers 
in mules, pimps, butchers, harlots ? What, that there are 
other kinds of dealers ? What do [the other kinds] of pro- 
fessors and arts (for the enumeration of which all life would 
be [too] short) contribute to the plan and constitution 1 of the 
world, that we should believe 2 that it could not have been 
founded without men, and would not attain its complete- 
ness without the addition of 3 a wretched and useless being's 
exertion ? 4 

39. But perhaps, [some one will urge,] the Ruler of the 
world sent hither souls sprung from himself for this purpose 
— a very rash thing for a man to say 5 — that they which had 
been divine 6 with him, not coming into contact with the body 
and earthly limits, 7 should be buried in the germs of men, 
spring from the womb, burst into and keep up the silliest 
wailings, draw the breasts in sucking, besmear and bedaub 
themselves with their own filth, then be hushed by the sway- 
ing 8 of the frightened nurse and by the sound of rattles. 9 
Did he send souls [hither] for this reason, that they which 
had been but now sincere and of blameless virtue should learn 

1 Rationibus et constitutionibus. 

2 Lit, "it should be believed." 

3 Lit., "unless there were joined." 

4 So the the MS., reading contention which Orelli would understand as 
meaning " contents," which may be correct. LB. reads conditio — 
"condition," ineptly; and Ursinus in the margin, completio — "the fill- 
ing up." 

5 So the later edd., from the margin of Ursinus, reading quod temeri- 
tatis est maximse for the MS. quern — " whom it shows the greatest rashness 
to speak of." 

6 Lit., " goddesses." 

7 So Gelenius (ace. to Orelli), reading as in the margin of Ursinus, 
terrense circumscriptionis, for the unintelligible reading of the MS., teme- 
rarix, retained in both Roman edd., Canterus, and (ace. to Oehler) 
Gelenius. LB. reads metarix — "a limiting by boundaries." 

8 Lit., "motions." 

9 Cf. Lucr. v. 229 sq. The same idea comes up again in iv. 21. 


as 1 men to feign, to dissemble, to lie, to cheat, 2 to deceive, to 
entrap with a flatterer's abjectness ; to conceal one thing in 
the heart, 3 express another in the countenance; to ensnare, to 
beguile 4 the ignorant with crafty devices, to seek out poisons 
by means of numberless arts [suggested] by bad feelings, 
and to be fashioned 5 with deceitful changeableness to suit 
circumstances ? Was it for this he sent souls, that, living 
[till then] in calm and undisturbed tranquillity, they might 
find in 6 their bodies causes by which to become fierce and 
savage, cherish hatred and enmity, make war upon each other, 
subdue and overthrow states ; load themselves with, and give 
themselves up to the yoke of slavery ; and finally, be put the 
one in the other's power, having changed the condition 7 in 
which they were born ? Was it for this he sent souls, that, 
being made unmindful of the truth, and forgetful of what 
God was, they should make supplication to images which 
cannot move ; address as superhuman deities pieces of wood, 
brass, and stones ; ask aid of them 8 with the blood of slain 
animals ; make no mention of Himself : nay more, that some 
of them should doubt their own existence, or deny altogether 
that anything exists? Was it for this he sent souls, that 
they which in their own abodes had been of one mind, 
equals in intellect and knowledge, after that they put on 
mortal forms, should be divided by differences of opinion ; 
should have different views as to what is just, useful, and 
right ; should contend about the objects of desire and aver- 

*m, "in." 

2 According to Hildebrand, the MS. reads dissimular-ent circumscribere, 
so that, by merely dropping nt, he reads, " to dissemble and cheat ;" but 
according to Crusius, iri is found in the MS. between these two words, 
so that by prefixing m Sabaeus in the first ed. read m-ent-iri as above, 
followed by all other edd. 

3 Lit., "to roll ... in the mind." 

4 Rigaltius and Hildebrand regard decipere as a gloss. 

5 So the MS., reading formari, followed by Hildebrand and Oehler; but 
all the other edd. give the active form, -are. 

6 Lit., " from." 7 The condition, i.e., of freedom. 

8 LB., seemingly received by Orelli, though not inserted into bis 
text, reads poscerent eos for the MS. -entur, which Hildebrand modifies 
-ent ea as above. 

108 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

sion ; should define the highest good and greatest evil diffe- 
rently ; that, in seeking to know the truth of things, they 
should be hindered by their obscurity ; and, as if bereft of 
eyesight, should see nothing clearly, 1 and, wandering from 
the truth, 2 should be led through uncertain bypaths of 
fancy ? 

40. Was it for this he sent souls [hither], that while the 
other creatures are fed by what springs up spontaneously, 
and is produced without being sown, and do not seek for 
themselves the protection or covering of houses or garments, 
they should be under the sad necessity 3 of building houses 
for themselves at very great expense and with never-ending 
toils, preparing coverings for their limbs, making different 
[kinds of] furniture for the wants 4 of daily life, borrowing 
help for 5 their weakness from the dumb creatures ; using vio- 
lence to the earth that it might not give forth its own herbs, 
but might send up the fruits required ; and when they had 
put forth all their strength 6 in subduing the earth, should 
be compelled to lose the hope with which they had laboured 7 
through blight, hail, drought; and at last forced by 8 hunger 
to throw themselves on human bodies ; and when set free, to 
be parted from their human forms by a wasting sickness ? 
Was it for this that they which, while they abode with him, 
had never had any longing for property, should have become 
exceedingly covetous, and with insatiable craving be inflamed 
to an eager desire of possessing; that they should dig up 
lofty mountains, and turn the unknown bowels of the earth 
into materials, and [to] purposes of a different kind ; should 
force their way to remote nations at the risk of life, and, in 
exchanging goods, always catch at a high price [for what 
they sell], and a low one 9 [for what they buy], take interest 

1 Lit, " certain." 2 Lit, " by error." 

3 Lit., " the sad necessity should be laid upon them, that," etc. 

4 Lit., " for the want of daily things," diurnorum egcstati, for which 
Stewechius would read diurna egestate — "from daily necessity." 

5 Lit., " of." 6 Lit., " poured forth all their blood." 
7 Lit, " of their labour." 8 Lit,, " at last by force of." 

9 So the MS. and edd., reading vilitatem, for which Meursius proposed 
very needlessly utilitatem — "and at an advantage." 


at greedy and excessive rates, and add to the number of 
their sleepless nights [spent] in reckoning up thousands 1 
wrung from the life-blood of wretched men ; should be ever 
extending the limits of their possessions, and, though they 
were to make whole provinces one estate, should weary the 
forum with suits for one tree, for [one] furrow ; should hate 
rancoronsly their friends and brethren % 

41. Was it for this he sent souls, that they which shortly 
before had been gentle and ignorant [of what it is] to be 
moved by fierce passions, should build for themselves markets 
and amphitheatres, places of blood and open wickedness, in 
the one of which they should see men devoured and torn in 
pieces by wild beasts, [and] themselves slay others for no 
demerit but to please and gratify the spectators, 2 and should 
spend those very days on which such wicked deeds were 
done in general enjoyment, and keep holiday with festive 
gaiety ; while in the other, again, they should tear asunder 
the flesh of wretched animals, some snatch one part, others 
another, as dogs and vultures do, should grind [them] with 
their teeth, and give to their utterly insatiable 3 maw, and 
that, surrounded by 4 faces so fierce and savage, those should 
bewail their lot whom the straits of poverty withheld from 
such repasts ; 5 that their life should be 6 happy and prosperous 
while such barbarous doings defiled their mouths and face ? 
"YVas it for this he sent souls, that, forgetting their import- 
ance and dignity [as] divine, they should acquire gems, 

1 So, adhering very closely to the MS., which gives e-t sanguine suppu- 
tandis augere-t insomnia milibus, the t of e-t being omitted and n inserted 
by all. The first five edd. read, -tandi se angerent insania : millibus — 
"harass themselves with the madness of reckoning; by miles should 
extend," etc., — the only change in Heraldus and Orelli being a return 
to insomnia — u harass with sleeplessness," etc. 

2 So restored by Cujacius, followed by LB. and Orelli, reading in 
grat-i-am (MS. wants i) voluptatemgue, while the first five edd. merely 
drop -que — " to the grateful pleasure," etc. 

3 Lit., "most cruel." 

4 Lit., " among," in oris, the MS. reading, and that of the first four 
edd., for which the others have received from the margin of Ursinus 
moribus — " [indulging] in so fierce and savage customs." 

6 Lit.. " tables." e U t, " they should live." 

110 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

precious stones, pearls, at the expense of their purity ; should 
entwine their necks with these, pierce the tips of their ears, 
bind * their foreheads with fillets, seek for cosmetics 2 to deck 
their bodies, 3 darken their eyes with henna ; nor, though in 
the forms of men, blush to curl their hair with crisping-pins, 
to make the skin of the body smooth, to walk with bare 
knees, and with every other [kind of] wantonness, both to 
lay aside the strength of their manhood, and to grow in 
effeminacy to a woman's habits and luxury ? 

42. Was it for this he sent souls, that some should infest 
the highways and roads, 4 others ensnare the unwary, forge 6 
false wills, prepare poisoned draughts ; that they should 
break open houses by night, tamper [with slaves], steal and 
drive away, not act uprightly, and betray [their trust] per- 
fidiously; that they should strike out delicate dainties for 
the palate ; that in cooking fowls they should know how 
to catch the fat as it drips ; that they should make crack- 
nels and sausages, 6 force-meats, tit-bits, Lucanian sausages, 
with these 7 a sow's udder and iced 8 haggises ? Was it 
for this he sent souls, that beings 9 of a sacred and august 
race should here practise singing and piping ; that they 

1 Ut. 1 "lessen." 

2 In the MS. this clause follows the words " loss of their purity," 
where it is very much in the way. Orelli has followed Heraldus in 
disposing of it as above, while LB. inserts it after " tips of their ears." 
The rest adhere to the arrangement of the MS., Ursinus suggesting 
instead of h is — "with these," catenis — " with chains ;" Heraldus, Unit — 
"with strings [of pearls] ;" Stewechius, tseniis — "with fillets." 

3 So LB. and Orelli, reading con-jic-iendis corporibvs for the MS. 
con-sp-iendis, for which the others read -spic-, " to win attention." A 
conjecture by Oudendorp, brought forward by Orelli, is worthy of 
notice — con-spu-endis, " to cover," i.e. so as to hide defects. 

* Lit., " passages of ways." 5 Lit., " substitute." 

6 So the later edd., reading botulos ; the MS. and early edd. give 
boletos — " mushrooms." 

7 For his, Heinsius proposes liiris — " with the intestines." 

8 Lit., " in a frozen condition." As to the meaning of this there is 
difference of opinion : some supposing that it means, as above, preserved 
by means of ice, or at least frozen ; while others interpret figuratively* 
" as hard as ice." 

9 Lit., "things"— m. 


should swell out their cheeks in blowing the flute ; that they 
should take the lead in singing impure songs, and raising 
the loud din of the castanets, 1 by which another crowd of 
souls should be led in their wantonness to abandon them- 
selves to clumsy motions, to dance and sing, form rings of 
dancers, and finally, raising their haunches and hips, float 
along with a tremulous motion of the loins ? 

Was it for this he sent souls, that in men they should 
become impure, in women harlots, players on the triangle 2 
and psaltery; that they should prostitute their bodies for 
hire, should abandon themselves to the lust of all, 3 ready in 
the brothels, to be met with in the stews, 4 ready to submit to 
anything, prepared to do violence to their mouth even ? 5 

43. What say you, O offspring and descendants of the 
Supreme Deity ? Did these souls, then, wise, and sprung 
from the first causes, become acquainted with such forms of 
baseness, crime, and bad feeling 1 and were they ordered to 
dwell here, 6 and be clothed with the garment of the human 
body, in order that they might engage in, might practise 
these evil [deeds], and that very frequently ! And is there a 
man with any sense of reason who thinks that the world was 

1 Scabilla were a kind of rattles or castanets moved by the feet. 

2 Sambuca, not corresponding to the modern triangle, but a stringed 
instrument of that shape. Its notes were shrill and disagreeable, and 
those who played on it of indifferent character. 

3 So the MS. and first four edd., reading virilitatem sui populo pabli- 
carent. Meursius emended utilitatem — "made common the use," etc.; 
and Orelli, from the margin of Ursinus, vilitatem — " their vileness." 

4 The MS. reads infornicibus obvi-t-se, which, dropping t, is the read- 
ing translated, and was received by Elmenhorst, LB., and Hildebrand, 
from the margin of Ursinus. The other edd. insert nc before t — " bound." 

5 The translation does not attempt to bring out the force of the words 
ad oris stuprum paratze, which are read by Orelli after Ursinus and 
Gelenius. The text is so corrupt, and the subject so obscene, that a 
bare reference to the practice may be sufficient. 

6 The MS. reads, liabitare atque Jiabitare juss-e-r-unt. All edd. omit 
the first two words, the first ed. without further change ; but the active 
verb is clearly out of place, and therefore all other edd. readjtttsa sunt, 
as above. Oehler, however, from Jiabitare omitted by the others, would 
emend aditare, " to approach,"— a conjecture with very little to recom- 
mend it. 

112 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

established because of them, and not rather that it was set 
up as a seat and home, in which every [kind of] wickedness 
should be committed daily, all evil deeds be done, plots, im- 
postures, frauds, covetousness, robberies, violence, impiety, 
[all that is] presumptuous, indecent, base, disgraceful, 1 [and] 
all the other evil deeds which men devise over all the earth 
with guilty purpose, and contrive for each other's ruin ? 

44. But, you say, they came of their own accord, not 
sent 2 by their lord. And 3 where was the Almighty Creator, 
where the authority of his royal and exalted place, 4 to pre- 
vent their departure, and not suffer them to fall into dan- 
gerous pleasures ? For if he knew that by change of place 
they would become base — and, as the arranger of all things, 5 
he must have known — or that anything would reach them 
from without which would make them forget their greatness 
and moral dignity (a thousand times would I beg of him to 
pardon [my words]), the cause of all is no other than him- 
self, since he allowed them to have freedom to w r ander 6 who 
he foresaw would not abide by their state of innocence ; and 
thus it is brought about that it does not matter whether they 
came of their own accord, or obeyed his command, since in 
not preventing what should have been prevented, by his 
inaction he made the guilt his own, and permitted it before 
[it was done] by neglecting to withhold them [from action]. 

45. But let this monstrous and impious fancy be put 7 far 
[from us], that Almighty God, the creator and framer, the 
author 8 of things great and invisible, should be believed to 
have begotten souls so fickle, with no seriousness, firmness, 
and steadiness, prone to vice, inclining to all kinds of sins ; 

1 These are all substantives in the original. 

2 So the MS., reading non missione — "not by the sending;" but, unac- 
countably enough, all edd. except Hildebrand and Oehler read jussione — 
'* not by the command." 

3 So the MS. 4 Lit., " royal sublimity." 5 Lit., " causes." 

c The MS. and both Roman edd. read abscondere — " to hide," for which 
the other edd. read, as above, abscedere, from the margin of Ursinus. 
< Lit, " go." 
8 By Hildebrand and Oehler, procreator is with reason regarded as a 



and while he knew that they were such and of this character, 
to have bid 1 them enter into bodies, imprisoned in which, 2 
they should live exposed to the storms and tempests of for- 
tune every day, and now do mean things, now submit to lewd 
treatment ; that they might perish by shipwreck, accidents, 
destructive conflagrations ; that poverty might oppress some, 
beggary, others ; that some might be torn in pieces by wild 
beasts, others perish by the venom of flies; 3 that some might 
limp in walking, others lose their sight, others be stiff with 
cramped 4 joints ; in fine, that they should be exposed to all 
the diseases which the wretched and pitiable human race en- 
dures with agony caused by 5 different sufferings ; then that, 
forgetting that they have one origin, one father and head, 
they should shake to their foundations and violate the rights 
of kinship, should overthrow their cities, lay waste their lands 
as enemies, enslave the free, do violence to maidens and to 
other men's wives, hate each other, envy the joys and good 
fortune of others ; and further, all malign, carp at, and tear 
each other to pieces with fiercely biting teeth. 

46. But, to say the same things again and again, 6 let this 
belief, so monstrous and impious, be put far [from us], that 
God, who preserves 7 all things, the origin of the virtues and 
chief in 8 benevolence, and, to exalt him with human praise, 

1 The MS., both Roman edd., and Hildebrand read jussisset ; but this 
would throw the sentence into confusion, and the other edd. therefore 
drop t. 

2 LB., Hildebrand, and Oehler read quorum indu-c-tse carceribus — 
a led into the prisons of which," all other edd. omitting c as above. 
According to Oehler, the MS. has the former reading. 

3 The MS. and both Roman edd. read in-f-ernarum paterentut alias 
laniatus muscularum, which has no meaning, and is little improved by 
Gelenius changing ut into wr, as no one knows what "infernal flies" 
are. LB. and Orelli, adopting a reading in the margin of Ursinus, 
change intern, into ferarum, and join muse, with the words which follow 
as above. Another reading, also suggested by Ursinus, seems preferable, 
however, internorum . . . musculorum — " suffer rendings (i.e. spasms) of 
the inner muscles." 

4 Lit., " bound." s L it., « dilaceration of." 

6 Lit., " again and more frequently." 7 Lit., " the salvation of." 

8 Lit., "height of." 


114 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

most wise, just, making all things perfect, and that perma- 
nently, 1 either made anything which was imperfect and not 
quite correct, 2 or was the cause of misery or danger to any 
being, or arranged, commanded, and enjoined the very acts 
in which man's life is passed and employed to flow from 
his arrangement. These things are unworthy of 3 him, and 
weaken the force of his greatness; and so far from his 
being believed to be their author, whoever imagines that 
man is sprung from Him is guilty of blasphemous impiety, 
[man,] a being miserable and wretched, who is sorry that he 
exists, hates and laments his state, and understands that he 
was produced for no other reason than lest evils should not 
have something 4 through which to spread themselves, and 
that there might always be wretched ones by whose agonies 
some unseen and cruel power, 5 adverse to men, should be 

47. But, you say, if God is not the parent and father of 
souls, by what sire have they been begotten, and how have 
they been produced I If you wish to hear unvarnished 
statements not spun out with vain ostentation of words, we, 
too, 6 admit that we are ignorant of this, do not know it ; 7 and 
we hold that, to know so great a matter, is not only beyond 
the reach of our weakness and frailty, but [beyond that] also 
of all the powers which are in the world, and which have 
usurped the place of deities in men's belief. But are we 
bound to show whose they are, because we deny that they 
are God's? That by no means 8 follows necessarily ; for if 

1 Lit., "things perfect, and preserving the measure of their complete- 
ness," i.e. continuing so. 

2 So the MS., LB., Oberthuer, and Oehler, reading claudum et quod 
minus esset a recto. All other edd. read eminus — " at a distance from 
the right." 

3 Lit., " less than." 4 Lit., " material." 
6 Lit., "some power latent and cruelty." 

6 So the MS. and all edd. ; but Orelli would change item into iterum, 
not seeing that the reference is to the indicated preference of his oppo- 
nents for the simple truth. 

7 Nescire Hildebrand, with good reason, considers a gloss. 

8 Nihil for the MS. mihi, which makes nonsense of the sentence. 


we were to deny that flies, beetles, and bugs, dormice, 
weevils, and moths, 1 are made by the Almighty King, we 
should not be required in consequence to say who made and 
formed them ; for without [incurring] any censure, we may 
not know who, indeed, gave them being, and [yet] assert that 
not by the Supreme 2 Deity were [creatures] produced so 
useless, so needless, so purposeless, 3 nay more, at times even 
hurtful, and causing unavoidable injuries. 

48. Here, too, in like manner, when we deny that souls 
are the offspring of God Supreme, it does not necessarily 
follow that we are bound to declare from what parent they 
have sprung, and by what causes they have been produced. 
For who prevents us from being either ignorant of the source 
from which they issued and came, or aware that they are 
not God's descendants ? By what method, you say, in what 
way 1 Because it is most true and certain 4 that, as has been 
pretty frequently said, nothing is effected, made, determined 
by the Supreme, except that which it is right and fitting 
should be done ; except that which is complete and entire, 
and wholly perfect in its 5 integrity. But further, we see 
that men, that is, these very souls — for what are men but 
souls bound to bodies ? — themselves show by perversely fall- 
ing into 6 vice, times without number, that they belong to no 
patrician race, but have sprung from insignificant families. 
For we see some harsh, vicious, presumptuous, rash, reckless, 
blinded, false, dissemblers, liars, proud, overbearing, covet- 
ous, greedy, lustful, fickle, weak, and unable to observe their 
own precepts ; but they would assuredly not be [so], if their 

1 This somewhat wide-spread opinion found an amusing counterpart 
in the doctrines of Rorarius (mentioned by Bayle, Diet. Phil), who 
affirmed that the lower animals are gifted with reason and speech, as 
we are. 

2 Lit., " superior." 3 Lit., " tending to no reasons." 

4 Omni vero verissimum est certoque certissimum — the superlative for 
the comparative. 

5 Lit., "finished with the perfection of." 

6 Lit., " by perversity"— s-c-xvitate, the reading of the MS., LB., 
Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, all others omitting c — "by the rage ;" except 
Stewechius, who reads servitute — " slavery." 

110 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

original goodness defended 1 them, and they traced their 
honourable descent from the head of the universe. 

49. But, you will say, there are good men also in the 
world, — wise, upright, of faultless and purest morals. We 
raise no question as to whether there ever were any such, in 
whom this very integrity which is spoken of was in nothing 
imperfect. Even if they are very honourable [men], and 
have been worthy of praise, have reached the utmost height 
of perfection, and their life has never wavered and sunk into 
sin, yet we would have you tell us how many there are, or 
have been, that we may judge from their number whether 
a comparison 2 has been made [which is] just and evenly 
balanced. 3 One, two, three, four, ten, twenty, a hundred, 
yet [are they] at least limited in number, and it may bo 
within the reach of names. 4 But it is fitting that the human 
race should be rated and weighed, not by a very few good 
men, but by all the rest [as well]. For the part is in the 
whole, not the whole in a part ; and that which is the whole 
should draw to it its parts, not the whole be brought to its 
parts. For what if you were to say that a man, robbed of 
the use of all his limbs, and shrieking in bitter agony, 5 was 
quite well, because in 6 one little nail he suffered no pain? or 
that the earth is made of gold, because in one hillock there 
are a few small grains from which, wdien dissolved, gold is 
produced, and wonder excited at it when formed into a 
lump? 7 The whole mass shows the nature of an element, 
not particles fine as air ; nor does the sea become forthwith 
sweet, if you cast or throw into [it] a few drops of less bitter 
water, for that small quantity is swallowed up in its immense 

1 Or, perhaps, "the goodness of the Supreme planted" — generositas 
eos adsereret principalis. 

2 Lit., "opposition," i.e. "the setting of one party against the other." 

3 Lit., " weighed with balancing of equality." 

4 Lit, "bounded by the comprehensions of names;" i.e. possibly, 
"the good are certainly few enough to be numbered, perhaps even to 
be named." 

5 So LB. t reading ex cruciatibus for the MS. scruc. 6 Lit., "of." 

7 Lit., "admiration is sought for by the putting together" — con- 


mass ; and it must be esteemed, not merely of little import- 
ance, but [even] of none, because, being scattered through- 
out all, it is lost and cut off in the immensity of the vast 
body [of water]. 

50. You say that there are good men in the human race ; 
and perhaps, if we compare them with the very wicked, we 
may be led 1 to believe that there are. Who are they, pray? 
Tell [us]. The philosophers, I suppose, who 2 assert that 
they alone are most wise, and who have been uplifted 
with pride from the meaning attached to this name, 3 — those, 
forsooth, who are striving with their passions every day, 
and struggling to drive out, to expel deeply-rooted passions 
from their minds by the persistent * opposition of their better 
qualities ; who, that it may be impossible for them to be led 
into wickedness at the suggestion of some opportunity, shun 
riches and inheritances, that they may remove 5 from them- 
selves occasions of stumbling ; but in doing this, and being 
solicitous about it, they show very clearly that [their] souls 
are, through their weakness, ready and prone to fall into vice. 
In our opinion, however, that which is good naturally, does 
not require to be either corrected or reproved ; 6 nay more, 
it should not know what evil is, if the nature of each kind 
would abide in its own integrity, for neither can two con- 
traries be implanted in each other, nor can equality be con- 
tained in inequality, nor sweetness in bitterness. He, then, 

1 Lit., " a comparison of the worst may effect that we," etc. 

2 So all edd. except Hildebrand, who gives as the reading of the MS., 
qui-d — " what! do they assert." 

5 Lit., "by the force of," vi, — an emendation of Heraldus for the MS. in. 

4 So most edd., reading pertinaci for the MS. -ium — " by the opposition 
of persistent virtues," which is retained in both Roman edd., Gelenius, 
Canterus, Hildebrand, and Oehler. 

5 So Stewechius and later edd., reading ut . . . auferant, except Hilde- 
brand, who gives as the MS. reading, et . . . -unt — " shun . . . and re- 
move," etc. The first four edd. read ne . . . afferant — "that they may 
not bring upon themselves," etc. 

6 So the MS. and first four edd., Orelli (who, however, seems to have 
meant to give the other reading), and Oehler, reading corri-p-i, for which 
the others read -igi — "corrected," except Hildebrand, who without due 
reason gives -rumpi — "corrupted." 

118 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ir. 

who struggles to amend the inborn depravity of his inclina- 
tions, shows most clearly that he is imperfect, 1 blameable, 
although he may strive with all zeal and stedfastness. 

51. But you laugh at our reply, because, while we deny 
that souls are of royal descent, we do not, on the other hand, 
say in turn from what causes and beginnings they have 
sprung. But what kind of crime is it either to be ignorant 
of anything, or to confess quite openly that you do not know 
that of which you are ignorant 1 or whether does he rather 
seem to you most deserving of ridicule who assumes to him- 
self no knowledge of some dark subject ; or he who thinks 
that he 2 knows most clearly that which transcends human 
knowledge, and which has been involved in dark obscurity ? 
If the nature of everything were thoroughly considered, you 
too are in a position like that which you censure in our case. 
For you do not say anything [which has been] ascertained 
and set most clearly in the light of truth, because you say 
that souls descend from the Supreme Ruler himself, and 
enter into the forms of men. For you conjecture, do not 
perceive 3 [this] ; surmise, do not actually know [it] ; for if 
to know is to retain in the mind that which you have your- 
self seen or known, not one of those things which you affirm 
can you say that you have ever seen — that is, that souls 
descend from the abodes and regions above. You are there- 
fore making use of conjecture, not trusting clear information. 
But what is conjecture, except a doubtful imagining of things, 
and directing of the mind upon nothing accessible ? He, 
then, who conjectures, does not comprehend, 4 nor does he 
walk in the 5 light of knowledge. But if this is true and 

1 In the MS. imperfectum is marked as a gloss, but is retained in all 
edd., while improbabilem is omitted, except in LB., when im is omitted, 
and probabilem joined to the next clause — " however he may strive to be 
acceptable," in order to provide an object for " strive ; " and with a simi- 
lar purpose Orelli thrusts in contrarium, although it is quite clear that 
the verb refers to the preceding clause, "struggles to amend." 

2 The MS. reads se esse, without meaning, from which LB., followed by 
Hildebrand, and Oehler derived se ex se — "himself of himself." 'Hie 
rest simply omit esse as above. 

3 Lit., " hold." 4 Lit., " hold." 5 Lit., " set in the." 


certain in the opinion of proper and very wise judges, your 
conjectures, too, in which you trust, must be regarded as 
[showing your] ignorance. 

52. And yet, lest you should suppose that none but your- 
selves can make use of conjectures and surmises, we too are 
able to bring them forward as well, 1 as your question is appro- 
priate to either side. 2 Whence, you say, are men ; and what 
or whence are the souls of these men ? Whence, [we will 
ask,] are elephants, bulls, stags, mules, 3 asses ! Whence 
lions, horses, dogs, wolves, panthers; and what or whence 
are the souls of these creatures ? For it is not credible that 
from that Platonic cup, 4 which Timseus prepares and mixes, 
either their souls came, or [that] the locust, 5 mouse, shrew, 
cockroach, frog, centipede, should be believed to have been 
quickened and to live, because 6 they have a cause and origin 
of birth in 7 the elements themselves, if there are [in these] 
secret and very little known means 8 for producing the crea- 
tures which live in each of them. For we see that some of 
the wise say that the earth is mother of men, that others join 
with it water, 9 that others add to these breath of air, but that 
some [say] that the sun is their framer, and that, having 
been quickened by his rays, they are filled with the stir of 
life. 10 What if it is not these, and is something else, another 
cause, another method, another power, in fine, unheard of 

1 Lit, "utter the same [conjectures]," easdem, the reading of LB. and 
Hildebrand, who says that it is so in the MS. ; while Crusius asserts that 
the MS. has idem, which, with Orelli's punctuation, gives — "we have the 
same power ; since it is common (i.e. a general right) to bring forth 
what you ask," i.e. to put similar questions. 

2 i.e. may be retorted upon you. 

3 Here, as elsewhere, instead of muli, the MS. reads milvi — "kites." 

4 Cf. Plato, Timxus, st. p. 41, already referred to. 

5 Or, perhaps, " cray-fish," locusta. 

6 The MS. reads quidem — "indeed," retained by the first four edd., but 
changed into quia — " because," by Elmenhorst, LB., and Orelli, while 
Oehler suggests very happily si quidem — "if indeed," i.e. because. 

7 Lit., "from." * » Rationes. 9 Cf. chs. ix. and x. 
10 Orelli, retaining this as a distinct sentence, would yet enclose it in 

brackets, for what purpose does not appear ; more especially as the next 
sentence follows directly from this in logical sequence. 

120 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

and unknown to us by name, which may have fashioned the 
human race, and connected it with things as established ; l 
may it not be that men sprang up in this way, and that the 
cause of their birth does not go back to the Supreme God ? 
For what reason do we suppose that the great Plato had — 
[a man] reverent and scrupulous in his wisdom — when he 
withdrew the fashioning of man from the highest God, and 
transferred it to some lesser [deities], and when he would not 
have the souls of men formed 2 of that pure mixture of which 
he had made the soul of the universe, except that he thought 
the forming of man unworthy of God, and the fashioning of 
a feeble being not beseeming His greatness and excellence ? 
53. Since this, then, is the case, we do nothing out of place 
or foolish in believing that the souls of men are of a neutral 
character, inasmuch as they have been produced by secondary 
beings, 3 made subject to the law of death, [and are] of little 
strength, [and that] perishable ; and that they are gifted with 
immortality, if 4 they rest their hope of so great a gift on 
God Supreme, who alone has power to grant such [blessings], 
by putting away corruption. But this, [you say,] we are 
stupid in believing. What [is that] to you? [In so be- 

1 Lit, "the constitutions of things." 

2 Lit., "did not choose the souls of the human race to be mixtures of 
the same purity," noluit, received from the margin of Ursinus by all 
except the first four edd., which retain the MS. voluit — "did choose," 
which is absurd. Arnobius here refers again to the passage in the 
Timxus, p. 41 sq., but to a different part, with a different purpose. He 
now refers to the conclusion of the speech of the Supreme God, the first 
part of which is noticed in ch. xxxvi. (cf. p. 103, n. 4). There the Creator 
assures the gods he has made of immortality through his grace ; now 
his further invitation that they in turn should form men is alluded to. 
That they might accomplish this task, the dregs still left in the cup, in 
which had been mixed the elements of the world's soul, are diluted and 
given to form the souls of men, to which they attach mortal bodies. 

3 Lit., " things not principal." Orelli here quotes from Tertullian, 
de Anim. xxiii., a brief summary of Gnostic doctrines on these points, 
which he considers Arnobius to have followed throughout this dis- 

4 Si was first inserted in LB., not being found in the MS., though 
demanded by the context. 


lieving, we act] most absurdly, sillily. In what do we injure 
you, or what wrong do we do or inflict upon you, if we trust 
that Almighty God will take care of us when we leave 1 our 
bodies, and from the jaws of hell, as is said, deliver us ? 

54. Can, then, anything be made, some one will say, 
without God's will? We 2 must consider carefully, and 
examine with no little pains, lest, while we think that we are 
honouring God 3 by such a question, we fall into the opposite 
sin, doing despite to his supreme majesty. In what way, 
[you ask,] on what ground? Because, if all things are 
brought about by his will, and nothing in the world can 
either succeed or fail contrary to his pleasure, it follows of 
necessity that it should be understood that 4 all evils, too, 
arise by his will. But if, on the contrary, we chose to say 
that he is privy to and produces no evil, not referring to him 
the causes of very wicked deeds, the worst things will begin 
to seem to be done either against his will, or, a monstrous 
thing to say, while he knows it not, [but] is ignorant and 
unaware of them. But, again, if we choose to say that 
there are no evils, as we find some have believed and held, 
all races will cry out against [us] and all nations together, 
showing us their sufferings, and the various kinds of dangers 
with which the human race is every moment 5 distressed and 
afflicted. Then they will ask of us, Why, if there are no 
evils, do you refrain from certain deeds and actions ? Why 
do you not do all that eager lust has required or demanded ? 
Why, finally, do you establish punishments by terrible laws 
for the guilty ? For what more monstrous G act of folly can 
be found than to assert that there are no evils, and [at the 

1 Lit., "have begun to leave." 

2 The MS. and first three edd. read vobis — " you," corrected nobis ^ as 
above, by Ursinus. 

3 So the MS. ; but most edd., following the Brussels transcript, read 
dominwn— " Lord." 

4 Ut is omitted in the MS., first four edd., and Hild. 

5 So LB., reading p-uncta for the MS. c-uncta. 

6 So the MS., Hild., and Oehler, reading imman-ior ; LB., from the 
margin of Ursinus, major — " greater ;" the rest, inanior — "more 

122 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

same time] to kill and condemn the erring as though they 
were evil ? l 

55. But when, overcome, we agree that there are these 
things, 2 and expressly allow that all human affairs are full of 
them, they will next ask, Why, then, the Almighty God does 
not take away these evils, but suffers them to exist and to 
go on without ceasing through all the ages ? 3 If we have 
learned of God the Supreme Ruler, and have resolved not to 
wander in a maze of impious and mad conjectures, we must 
answer that we do not know these things, and have never 
sought and striven to know things which could be grasped 
by no powers [which we have], and that we, even thinking 
it 4 preferable, rather remain in ignorance and want of know- 
ledge than say that without God nothing is made, so that it 
should be understood that by his will 6 he is at once both 
the source of evil 6 and the occasion of countless miseries. 
Whence then, you will say, are all these evils ? From the 
elements, say the wise, and from their dissimilarity ; but how 
it is possible that things which have not feeling and judgment 
should be held to be wicked or criminal ; or that he should 

1 The difficulty felt by Arnobius as to the origin of evil perplexed 
others also ; and, as Elmenhorst has observed, some of the fathers 
attempted to get rid of it by a distinction between the evil of guilt and 
of punishment, — God being author of the latter, the devil of the former 
(Tertullian, adv. Marcionem, ii. 14). It would have been simpler and 
truer to have distinguished deeds, which can be done only if God will, 
from wickedness, which is in the sinful purpose of man's heart. 

2 i.e. ills. 

3 Lit., " with all the ages, in steady continuance." 

4 The MS., followed by Oehler alone, reads ducetis — " and you will 
think ;" while all the other edd. read, as above, ducentes. 

5 Here, too, there has been much unnecessary labour. These words — 
per voluntatem — as they immediately follow sine deo dicere nihil fieri — 
" to say that without God nothing is made" — were connected with the 
preceding clause. To get rid of the nonsense thus created, LB. emended 
dei . . . voluntate — "without God's will ;" while Heraldus regards them 
as an explanation of sine deo, and therefore interprets the sentence much 
as LB. Orelli gets rid of the difficulty by calling them a gloss, and 
bracketing them. They are, however, perfectly in place, as will be seen 

6 PI. 


not rather be wicked and criminal, who, to bring about some 
result, took what was afterwards to become very bad and 
hurtful, 1 — is for them to consider, who make the assertion. 
What, then, do we say ? whence 1 There is no necessity 
that we should answer, for whether we are able to say 
[whence evil springs], or our power fails us, and we are 
unable, in either case it is a small matter in our opinion ; 
nor do we hold it of much importance either to know or to 
be ignorant of it, being content to have laid down but one 

O 7 O 

thing, — that nothing proceeds from God Supreme which is 
hurtful and pernicious. This we are assured of, this we 
know, on this one truth of knowledge and science we take 
our stand, — that nothing is made by him except that which 
is for the well-being of all, which is agreeable, which is very 
full of love and joy and gladness, which has unbounded and 
imperishable pleasures, which every one may ask in all his 
prayers to befall him, and think that otherwise 2 life is per- 
nicious and fatal. 

56. As for all the other things which are usually dwelt 
upon in inquiries and discussions — from what parents they 
have sprung, or by whom they are produced — we neither 
strive to know, 3 nor care to inquire or examine : we leave all 
things to their own causes, and do not consider that they 
have been connected and associated with that which we desire 
should befall us. 4 For what is there which men of ability do 

1 It would not be easy to understand why Orelli omitted these words, 
if we did not know that they had been accidentally omitted by Ober- 
thiir also. 

2 Lit., " that apart from these it is pernicious." 

3 It must be observed that this sentence is very closely connected with 
the last words of the preceding chapter, or the meaning may be ob- 
scured. The connection may be shown thus : This one thing — that God 
is author of no evil — we are assured of ; but as for all other questions, 
we neither know, nor care to know, about them. 

4 This seems the most natural arrangement ; but the edd. punctuate 
thus : " have been connected and associated with us for that which we 
desire." The last part of the sentence is decidedly obscure ; but the 
meaning may perhaps be, that the circumstances of man's life which 
absorb so much attention and cause such strife, have no bearing, after 
all, upon his salvation. 

124 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

not dare to overthrow, to destroy, 1 from love of contradiction, 
although that which they attempt to invalidate is unobjection- 
able 2 and manifest, and evidently bears the stamp of truth ? 
Or what, again, can they not maintain with plausible argu- 
ments, although it may be very manifestly untrue, although 
it may be a plain and evident falsehood ? For when a man 
has persuaded himself that there is or is not something, he 
likes to affirm what he thinks, and to show greater subtlety 
than others, especially if the subject discussed is out of the 
ordinary track, and by nature abstruse and obscure. 3 Some 
of the wise think that the world was not created, and will 
never perish ; 4 some that it is immortal, although they say 
that it was created and made ; 5 while a third party have 
chosen to say that it both was created and made, and will 
perish as other things must. 6 And while of these three 
opinions one only must be true, they nevertheless all find 
arguments by which at once to uphold their own doctrines, 
and undermine and overthrow the dogmas of others. Some 
teach and declare that this same [world] is composed of four 
elements, others of two, 7 a third party of one ; some say that 

1 So the MS., reading lalefactare dissolvere ; the latter word, however, 
being marked as spurious. 

2 Lit, "pure." 

3 Lit., "hidden and enwrapt in darkness of nature," abdita et caligine 
involuta natui'x, — the reading of all edd. except Hild. and Oehler, who 
follow the MS. abditx cal. — '* enwrapt in darkness of hidden nature." 

4 This has been supposed to refer to Heraclitus, as quoted by Clem. 
Alex. Stromaia, v. p. 599 B., where his words are, "Neither God nor 
man made the world ; but there was always, and is, and will be, an 
undying flame laying hold of its limits, and destroying them ;" on which 
cf. p. 73, n. 1. Here, of course, fire does not mean that perceived by 
the senses, but a subtle, all -penetrating energy. 

5 Cf. ch. 52, n. 2, p. 120. 

c Lit., " by ordinary necessity." The Stoics (Diog. Laert. vii. 134) 
said that the w r orld was made by God working on uncreated matter, and 
that it was perishable (§ 141), because made through that of which 
perception could take cognizance. Cf. ch. 31, n. 7, p. 98. 

7 Orelli thinks that there is here a confusion of the parts of the world 
with its elements, because he can nowhere find that any philosopher 
has fixed the number of the elements either above or below four. The 
Stoics, however (Diog. Laert. vii. 134), said " that the elements (dp^us) 


[it is composed of] none of these, and that atoms are that 
from which it is formed, 1 and its primary origin. And since 
of these opinions only one is true, but 2 not one of them cer- 
tain, here too, in like manner, arguments present themselves 
to all with which they may both establish the truth of what 
they say, and show that there are some things false 3 in the 
others' opinions. So, too, some utterly deny the existence of 
the gods ; others say that they are lost in doubt as to whether 
they exist anywhere ; others, however, [say] that they do 
exist, but do not trouble themselves about human things ; 
nay, others maintain that they both take part in the affairs 
of men, and guide the course of earthly events. 4 

57. While, then, this is the case, and it cannot but be that 
only one of all these opinions is true, they all nevertheless 
make use of arguments in striving with each other, — and not 
one of them is without something plausible to say, whether 
in affirming his own views, or objecting to the opinions of 
others. In exactly the same way is the condition of souls 
discussed. For this one thinks that they both are immortal, 
and survive the end of our earthly life; that one believes 
that they do not survive, but perish with the bodies them- 
selves : the opinion of another, however, is that they suffer 
nothing immediately, but that, after the [form of] man has 
been laid aside, they are allowed to live a little longer, 5 [and] 
then come under the power of death. And while all these 
opinions cannot be alike true, yet all [who hold them] so 
support their case by strong and very weighty arguments, 

of the world are two — the active and passive ;" while, of course, the 
cosmic theories of the early philosophers affirm that the world sprang 
from one, and it seems clear enough that Arnobius here uses the word 
element in this sense. 

1 Lit., " its material." 

2 A conjecture of Meursius adopted by Oehler, merely dropping u 
from aut — " or," which is read in the MS. and edd. 

3 Lit., "refute falsities placed." 

4 Cf. Cicero, de Nat. Deor. i. 1, 12, 19, 23, etc. 

5 Lit., " something is given to them to life." So the Stoics taught, 
although Chrysippus (cf. n. 7, ch. 31, p. 98) held that only the souls of 
the wise remained at all after death. 

126 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

that you cannot find out anything which seems false to you, 
although on every side you see that things are being said 
altogether at variance with each other, and inconsistent from 
their opposition to each other ; * which assuredly would not 
happen, if man's curiosity could reach any certainty, or if 
that which seemed [to one] to have been really discovered, 
was attested by the approval of all the others. It is there- 
fore wholly 2 vain, a useless task, to bring forward something 
as though you knew it, or to wish to assert that you know 
that which, although it should be true, you see can be refuted ; 
or to receive that as true which it may be is not, and is 
brought forward as if by men raving. And it is rightly so, 
for we do not weigh and guess at 3 divine things by divine, 
but by human methods; and just as we think that anything 
should have been made, so we assert that it must be. 

58. What, then, are we alone ignorant? do we alone not 
know who is the creator, who the former of souls, what cause 
fashioned man, whence ills have broken forth, or why the 
Supreme Ruler allows them both to exist and be perpetrated, 
and does not drive them from the world ? have you, indeed, 
ascertained and learned any of these things with certainty ? 
If you chose to lay aside audacious 4 conjectures, can you 
unfold and disclose whether this world in which we dwell 6 
was created or founded at some time ? if it was founded and 
made, by what kind of work, pray, or for what purpose? 
Can you bring forward and disclose the reason why it does 
not remain fixed and immoveable, but is ever being carried 
round in a circular motion ? whether it revolves of its own 
will and choice, or is turned by the influence of some power ? 

1 The MS., first four edd., and Oehler read et return contrarietatibus dis- 
sonare — " and that they disagree from the oppositions of things." Hild. 
reads dissonora, a word not met with elsewhere, while the other edd. 
merely drop the last two letters, -re, as above ; a reading suggested in 
the margin of Ursinus. 

2 Lit., " a most vain thing," etc. 

3 So the MS., LB., Elmenh., Hild., and Oehler, reading conjectamus, the 
other edd. reading commetamur or -imur — " measure," except Gelenius 
and Canterus, who read commentamur — "muse upon." 

4 Lit., " audacity of." 6 Lit., " world which holds us." 


what the place, too, and space is in which it is set and re- 
volves, boundless, bounded, hollow, or * solid ! whether it is 
supported by an axis resting on sockets at its extremities, 
or rather itself sustains by its own power, and by the spirit 
within it upholds itself I Can you, if asked, make it clear, 
and show most skilfully, 2 what opens out the snow into 
feathery flakes? what was the reason and cause that day did 
not, in dawning, arise in the west, and veil its light in the 
east ? how the sun, too, by one and the same influence, 3 pro- 
duces results so different, nay, even so opposite? what the 
moon is, what the stars ? why, on the one hand, it does not 
remain of the same shape, or why it was right and necessary 
that these particles of fire should be set all over the world? 
why some 4 of them are small, others larger and greater, 
— these have a dim light, those a more vivid and shining 
brightness ? 

59. If that which it has pleased us to know is within 
reach, and if such knowledge is open to all, declare to us, 5 and 
say how and by what means showers of rain are produced, 
so that water is held suspended in the regions above and in 
mid-air, although by nature it is apt to glide away, and so 
ready to flow and run downwards. Explain, I say, and tell 
what it is which sends the hail whirling [through the air], 
which makes the rain fall drop by drop, which has spread 
out rain and feathery flakes of snow and sheets of light- 
ning; 6 whence the wind rises, and what it is; why the changes 
of the seasons were established, when it might have been 
ordained that there should be only one, and one kind of cli- 
mate, so that there should be nothing wanting to the world's 

1 The first five edd. insert the mark of interrogation after "hollow :" 
" Whether does a solid axis," etc. 

2 So the edd. except. Hild., who retains the MS. reading in-scientissime 
— " most unskilfully " (the others omitting in-), and Oehler, who 
changes e into i — " and being most witless show," etc. 

3 Lit., " touch." 

4 So the later edd., reading from the margin of Ursinus figif cur alia, 
for the MS. figuralia, except LB., which reads Jigurari — "be formed." 

5 So the MS. ; but all edd. except Hild. and Oehler omit nobis. 

6 So the MS., reading folgora dilatarit, followed by LB. 

128 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ir. 

completeness. What is the cause, what the reason, that the 
waters of the sea are salt ; or that, of those on land, some are 
sweet, others bitter or cold? From what kind of material 
have the inner parts of men's bodies been formed and built 
up into firmness ? From what have their bones been made 
solid ? what made the intestines and veins shaped like pipes, 
and easily passed through ? Why, wheu it would be better 
to give us light by several eyes, to [guard against] the risk of 
blindness, are we restricted to two ? For what purpose have 
so infinite and innumerable kinds of monsters and serpents 
been either formed or brought forth ? what purpose do owls 
serve in the world, — falcons, hawks ? what other birds 2 and 
winged creatures? what the [different] kinds of ants and 
worms springing up to be a bane and pest in various ways ? 
what fleas, obtrusive flies, spiders, shrew, and other mice, 
leeches, water-spinners ? what thorns, briers, wild-oats, tares ? 
what the seeds of herbs or shrubs, either sweet to the nostrils, 
or disagreeable in smell? Nay more, if you think that any- 
thing can be known or comprehended, say what wheat is, — 
spelt, barley, millet, the chick-pea, bean, lentil, melon, cumin, 
scallion, leek, onion? For [even] if they are useful to you, 
and are ranked among the different kinds of food, it is not a 
light or easy thing to know what each is, — why they have been 
formed with such shapes; [whether] there was any necessity 
that they should not have had other tastes, smells, and colours 
than those which each has, or whether they could have taken 
others also ; further, what these very things are, — taste, I 
mean, 3 and the rest ; [and] from what relations they derive 
their differences of quality. From the elements, you say, 
and from the first beginnings of things. Are the elements, 
then, bitter or sweet? have they any odour or 4 stench, that 

1 Salsa, corrected from the MS. sola. 

2 Alites et volucres ; i.e., according to Orelli, the birds from whose 
flight auguries were drawn, as opposed to the others. 

3 So Heraldus, whose punctuation also is here followed, omitting id 
est sapor — " that is, taste," which Meursius and LB., followed by Orelli, 
amend, ut est — " as taste is" [in each thing]. 

4 Vcl is here inserted in all edd., most of which read, as above, oloris, 


we should believe that, from their uniting, qualities were 
implanted in their products by which sweetness is produced, 
or something prepared offensive to the senses ! 

60. Seeing, then, that the origin, the cause, the reason of 
so many and so important things, escapes you yourselves also, 
and that you can neither say nor explain what has been 
made, nor why and wherefore it should not have been [other- 
wise], do you assail and attack our timidity, who confess that 
we do not know that which cannot be known, and who do 
not care to seek out and inquire into those things which it is 
quite clear cannot be understood, although human conjecture 
should extend and spread itself through a thousand hearts ? 
And therefore Christ the divine, — although you are unwill- 
ing to allow it, — Christ the divine, I repeat (for this must be 
said often, that the ears of unbelievers may burst and be 
rent asunder), speaking in the form of man by command of 
the Supreme God, because he knew that men are naturally 1 
blind, and cannot grasp the truth at all, or regard as sure 
and certain what they might have persuaded themselves as to 
things set before their eyes, and do not hesitate, for the sake 
of their 2 conjectures, to raise and bring up questions that 
cause much strife, — bade us abandon and disregard all these 
things of which you speak, and not waste our thoughts upon 
things which have been removed far from our knowledge, 
but, as much as possible, seek the Lord of the universe with 
the whole mind and spirit ; be raised above these subjects, 
and give over to him our hearts, as yet hesitating whither 
to tarn; 3 be ever mindful of him; and although no imam- 
nation can set him forth as he is, 4 yet form some faint con- 

which is found in the MS., in later -writing, for the original, colons — 
11 colour," retained by Ursinus, LB., and Oehler. 

1 Lit., " that the nature of man is." 

2 So the MS., according to Crusius, reading nee pro suis; while, 
according to Hild., the reading is prorsus — "and are utterly without 
hesitation," adopted in the edd. with the substitution of et for nee — 
" and that they altogether hesitate," which, besides departing from the 
MS., runs counter to the sense. 

3 Lit., " transfer to him the undecided conversions of the breast." 

4 Lit., " he can be formed by no imagination." 


130 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book il 

ception of him. For [Christ said] that, of all who are com- 
prehended in the vague notion of what is sacred and divine, 1 
he alone is beyond the reach of doubt, alone true, and one 
about whom only a raving and reckless madman can be in 
doubt ; to know whom is enough, although you have learned 
nothing besides ; and if by knowledge you have indeed been 
related to 2 God, the head of the world, you have gained the 
true and most important knowledge. 

61. What business of yours is it, he 3 says, to examine, to 
inquire who made man; what is the origin of souls; who 
devised the causes of ills ; whether the sun is larger than the 
earth, or measures only a foot in breadth ; 4 whether the moon 
shines with borrowed light, or from her own brightness, — 
things which there is neither profit in knowing, nor loss in 
not knowing? Leave these things to God, and allow him 
to know what is, wherefore, or whence ; whether it must 
have been or not; whether something always existed, 6 or 
whether it was produced at the first ; whether it should be 
annihilated or preserved, consumed, destroyed, or restored 
in fresh vigour. Your reason is not permitted to involve 
you in such questions, and to be busied to no purpose about 
things so much out of reach. Your interests are in jeopardy, 
— the salvation, I mean, 6 of your souls ; and unless you give 
yourselves to seek to know the Supreme God, a cruel death 
awaits you when freed from the bonds of body, not bringing 
sudden annihilation, but destroying by the bitterness of its 
grievous and long-protracted punishment. 

62. And be not deceived or deluded with vain hopes by 
that which is said by some ignorant and most presumptuous 

1 Lit., "which the obscurity of sacred divinity contains;" which Orelli 
interprets, " the most exalted being holds concealed from mortals." 

2 Lit., " and being fixed on." 

3 i.e. Christ. 

4 As Heraclitus is reported to have said. 

5 The MS., first five edd., and Oehler read superjwtum, for which the 
other edd. read, as above, semper natum, from the margin of Ursinus. 
The soul is referred to. 

6 So the later edd., following Elmenhorst, who emended dico for the 
MS. did, omitted by the first four edd. 


pretenders, 1 that they are born of God, and are not subject 
to the decrees of fate ; that his palace lies open to them if 
they lead a life of temperance, and that after death as men, 
they are restored without hindrance, as if to their father's 
abode ; nor [by that] which the Magi 2 assert, that they have 
intercessory prayers, won over by which some powers make 
the way easy to those who are striving to mount to heaven ; 
nor [by that] which Etruria holds out in the Acherontic 
books, 3 that souls become divine, and are freed from the law 4 
of death, if the blood of certain animals is offered to certain 
deities. These are empty delusions, and excite vain desires. 
None but the Almighty God can preserve souls ; nor is there 
any one besides who can give them length of days, and grant 
to them also a spirit which shall never die, 5 except he who 
alone is immortal and everlasting, and restricted by no limit 
of time. For since all the gods, whether those who are real, 
or those who are merely said to be from hearsay and con- 
jecture, are immortal and everlasting by his good-will and 
free gift, how can it be that others 6 are able to give that 
which they themselves have, 7 while they have it as the gift 
of another, bestowed by a greater power? Let Etruria 
sacrifice what victims it may, let the wise deny themselves 
all the pleasures of life, 8 let the Magi soften and soothe all 
[lesser] powers, [yet,] unless souls have received from the 
Lord of all things that which reason demands, and [does so] 
by [his] command, it 9 will hereafter deeply repent having 

1 So most edd., reading sciolis, from the emendation of Gelenius ; but 
the MS., first five edd., Hild., and Oehler read scholis — " by some schools, 
and [these] arrogating very much to themselves." 

2 Cf. ch. xiii. p. 79 ; Plato, Rep. ii. st. p. 364, where Glaucon speaks 
of certain fortune-telling vagrant seers, who persuade the rich that 
they have power with the gods, by means of charms and sacrifices, to 
cleanse from guilt ; and also Origen, contra Cels. i. 69, where the Magi 
are spoken of as being on familiar terms with evil powers, and thus 
able to accomplish whatever is within these spirits' power. 

3 Mentioned by Servius (on JEn. viii. 399) as composed by Tages 
(ch. lxix.), and seemingly containing directions as to expiatory sacrifices. 

4 PI. 5 Lit., " a spirit of perpetuity." 
6 i.e. than the Supreme God. 7 Lit., "are." 

8 Lit., " all human things." 9 i.e. reason. 

132 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

made itself a laughing-stock, 1 when it begins to feel the 
approach 2 of death. 

63. But if, my opponents say, Christ was sent by God for 
this end, that he might deliver unhappy souls from ruin and 
destruction, of what crime were former ages guilty which 
were cut off in their mortal state before he came ? Can you, 
then, know what has become of these souls 3 of men who lived 
long ago? 4 whether they, too, have [not] been aided, pro- 
vided, and cared for in some way? Can you, I say, know 
that which could have been learned through Christ's teaching; 
whether the ages are unlimited in number or not since the 
human race began to be on the earth ; when souls were first 
bound to bodies ; who contrived that binding, 5 nay, rather, 
who formed man himself; whither the souls of men who 
lived before us have gone ; in what parts or regions of the 
world they were ; whether they were corruptible or not ; 
whether they could have encountered the danger of death, if 
Christ had not come forward as their preserver at their time 
of need? Lay aside these cares, and abandon questions to 
which you can find no answer. 6 The Lord's compassion 
has been shown to them, too, and the divine kindness 7 has 
been extended to 8 all alike; they have been preserved, have 
been delivered, and have laid aside the lot and condition of 
mortality. Of what kind, [my opponents ask,] what, when ? 
If you were free from presumption, arrogance, and conceit, 
you might have learned long ago from this teacher. 

64. But, [my opponents ask,] if Christ came as the Saviour 

1 The MS. reads fuisse me risui, which has no meaning ; corrected, fuisse 
irrisui in most edd., and derisui by Meursius, Hild., and Oehler, — the 
sense being in either case as above. 

2 Lit., " when it begins to approach to the feeling," cum ad sensum ; 
so read by Gelenius for the unintelligible MS. cum absens cum. 

3 So the edd., reading quid sit cum eis animis actum for the MS. cum 
ejus nimis. 

4 Lit., " of ancient and very old men." 

5 So the MS., LB., Hild., and Oehler, reading vinctionis ; the other 
edd. junctionis — " union." 

6 Lit., " unknown questions." 7 PL 
8 Lit., " has run over." 


of men, as 1 you say, why 2 does he not, with uniform bene- 
volence, free all without exception? [I reply,] does not he 
free all alike who invites all alike ? or does he thrust back 
or repel any one from the kindness of the Supreme who 
gives to all alike the power of coming to him, — to men of 
high rank, to the meanest slaves, to women, to boys? To 
all, he says, the fountain of life is open, 3 and no one is 
hindered or kept back from drinking. 4 If you are so fas- 
tidious as to spurn the kindly 5 offered gift, nay, more, if 
your wisdom is so great that you term those things which 
are offered by Christ ridiculous and absurd, why should he 
keep on inviting 6 [you], while his only duty is to make the 
enjoyment of his bounty depend upon your own free choice? 7 
God, Plato says, does not cause any one to choose his lot in 
life; 8 nor can another's choice be rightly attributed to any 
one, since freedom of choice was put in his power who made 
it. Must you be even implored to deign to accept the gift 
of salvation from God ; and must God's gracious mercy be 
poured into your bosom while you reject it with disdain, and 

1 So the MS. and Oehler, reading at, which is omitted in all other edd. ; 
in this case, the words in brackets are unnecessary. 

" So Orelli, reading cur (quur in most edd.) for the MS. quos. Instead 
of non — "not," which follows, the MS., according to Oehler, reads nos, 
and he therefore changes quos into quseso — " I ask, does he free all of us 

3 There is clearly no reference here to a particular passage of Scrip- 
ture, but to the general tone of Christ's teaching : " Him that cometh 
unto me, I will in nowise cast out." Orelli, however, with his usual 
infelicity, wishes to see a direct reference, either to Christ's words to 
the woman of Samaria (John iv. 13-15), or, which is rather extra- 
ordinary, to John vi. 35-37 : " I am the bread of life," etc. Cf. 
n. 6, p. 135. 

4 Lit., " the right of drinking." 5 Lit., " the kindness of." 

6 Lit., " what waits he for, inviting," quid invitans expectat ; the read- 
ing of the MS., both Roman edd., and Oehler. Gelenius, followed by 
Canterus and Elmenhorst, changed the last word into peccat — " in what 
does he sin," adopted by the other edd., with the addition of in te — 
" against you." 

7 Lit., " exposes under decision of your own right." 

8 Cf. Plato, Rep. ii. st. p. 379 : " of a few things God would be the 
cause, but of many he would not ;" and x. st. p. G17 fin. 

134 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

flee very far from it ? Do you choose to take what is offered, 
and turn it to your own advantage ? You will [in that case] 
have consulted your own interests. Do you reject with 
disdain, lightly esteem, and despise it? You will [in this 
case] have robbed yourself of the benefit of the gift. 1 God 
compels no one, terrifies no one with overpowering fear. 
For our salvation is not necessary to him, so that he would 
gain anything or suffer any loss, if he either made us 
divine, 2 or allowed us to be annihilated and destroyed by 

65. Nay, [my opponent] says, if God is powerful, merciful, 
willing to save us, let him change our dispositions, and compel 
us to trust in his promises. This, then, is violence, not kind- 
ness nor the bounty of the Supreme God, but a childish and 
vain 3 strife in seeking to get the mastery. For what is so 
unjust as to force men who are reluctant and unwilling, to 
reverse their inclinations ; to impress forcibly on their minds 
what they are unwilling [to receive] and shrink from ; to 
injure before benefiting, and to bring to another way of 
thinking and feeling, by taking away the former ? You who 
wish yourself to be changed, 4 and to suffer violence, that you 
may do and may be compelled to take to yourself that which 
you do not wish, why do you refuse of your own accord to 
select that which you wish to do, when changed and trans- 
formed ? I am unwilling, he says, and have no wish. What, 
then, do you blame God as though he failed you? do you 
wish [him] to bring you help, 5 whose gifts and bounties you 

1 So LB., Orelli, Oehler, adopting the emendation of Ursinus, tu te 
muneris commoditate privaveris, for the unintelligible reading of the MS., 
iuti m. c. probaveris. 

2 i.e. immortal, deos, so corrected by Gelenius for the MS. deus — "if 
either God made us." 

3 So most edd., reading inanis for the MS. animi ; retained, though not 
very intelligible, in LB., while Hild. reads anilis — "foolish." 

4 So the MS. now reads vcrti ; but this word, according to Pithceus, is 
in a later handwriting, and some letters have been erased. 

5 So the edd., reading tibi desit ? opem desideras tibi, except Hild. and 
Oehler, who retain the MS. reading, t. d. o. desideranti — " as though he 
failed you desiring [him] to bring help." 


not only reject and shun, but term empty 1 words, and 
assail with jocose witticisms ! Unless, then, [my opponent 
says,] I shall be a Christian, I cannot hope for salvation. 
It is just as you yourself say. For, to bring salvation and 
impart to souls what should be bestowed and must be added, 
[Christ] alone has had given into his charge and entrusted 2 
to him by God the Father, the remote and more secret 
causes being so disposed. For, as with you, certain gods have 
fixed offices, privileges, powers, and you do not ask from any 
of them what is not in his power and permitted to him, so it 
is the right of 3 Christ alone to give salvation to souls, and 
assign them everlasting life. For if you believe that father 
Bacchus can give a good vintage, [but] cannot give relief 
from sickness ; if [you believe] that Ceres [can give] good 
crops, iEsculapius health, Neptune one thing, Juno 4 another, 
that Fortune, Mercury, Vulcan, are each the giver of a fixed 
and particular thing, — this, too, you must needs receive from 
us, 5 that souls can receive from no one life and salvation, 
except from him to whom the Supreme Kuler gave this 
charge and duty. The Almighty Master of the world has 
determined that this should be the way of salvation, — this the 
door, so to say, of life ; by him G alone is there access to the 
light : nor may men either creep in or enter elsewhere, all 
other [ways] being shut up and secured by an impenetrable 

66. So, then, even if you are pure, and have been cleansed 

1 So Ursinus, reading in ania cognomines for the MS. in alia, which 
Orelli would interpret, " call the reverse of the truth." 

2 Lit., " For the parts of bringing . . . has enjoined and given over," 
partes . . . injunctum habet et traditum, where it will be important to 
notice that Arnobius, writing rapidly, had carried with him only the 
general idea, and forgotten the mode in which this was expressed. 

3 Pontificium. * 

4 Here, too, according to Pithceus, there are signs of erasure. 

5 i.e. admit. 

6 This passage at once suggests John x. 9 and xiv. 6, and it is there- 
fore the more necessary to notice the way in which Arnobius speaks 
(" so to say "), which is certainly not the tone of one quoting a passage 
with which he is well acquainted. 

136 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book n. 

from every stain of vice, have won over and charmed l those 
powers not to shut the ways against you and bar your pas- 
sage when returning to heaven, by no efforts will you be 
able to reach the prize of immortality, unless by Christ's gift 
you have perceived what constitutes this very immortality, 
and have been allowed to enter on the true life. For as to 
that with which you have been in the habit of taunting us, 

%l O 7 

that our religion is new, 2 and arose a few davs a^o, almost, 
and that you could not abandon the ancient faith which you 
had inherited from your fathers, and pass over to barbarous 
and foreign rites, this is urged wholly without reason. For 
what if in this way we chose to blame the preceding, even 
the most ancient ages, because when they discovered how to 
raise crops, 3 they despised acorns, and rejected with scorn 
the wild strawberry ; because they ceased to be covered with 
the bark of trees and clad in the hides of wild beasts, after 
that garments of cloth were devised, more useful and con- 
venient in wearing ; or because, when houses were built, and 
more comfortable dwellings erected, they did not cling to 
their ancient huts, and did not prefer to remain under rocks 
and caves like the beasts of the field ? It is a disposition 
possessed by all, and impressed on us almost from our cradles 
even, to prefer good things to bad, useful to useless things, 
and to pursue and seek that with more pleasure which has 
been generally regarded 4 as more [than usually] precious, 
and to set on that our hopes for prosperity and favourable 

67. Therefore, when you urge against us that we turn 
away from the religion 5 of past [ages], it is fitting that you 
should examine why it is done, not what is done, and not set 
before you what we have left, but observe especially what we 

1 Lit., " bent." 2 Cf. i. 13 and 53. 

3 Lit., " crops being invented." 

4 So the later edd., reading constiterit from the margin of Ursinus; but 
in the MS. and first four edd. the reading is constituent — "has estab- 
lished," for which there is no subject. 

1 So the later edd., reading aversionem ex (LB., and preceding edd. «) 
reltgione for the MS. et religionem — M against us the hatred and religion 
of past ages." 


have followed. For if it is a fault or crime to change an 
opinion, and pass from ancient customs to new conditions 
and desires, this accusation holds against you too, who have 
so often changed your habits and mode of life, who have 
gone over to other customs and ceremonies, so that you are 
condemned by 1 past ages [as well as we]. Do you indeed 
have the people distributed into five 2 classes, as your ances- 
tors once had ! Do you ever elect magistrates by vote of 
the people ? Do you know what military, urban, and com- 
mon 3 comitia are 1 Do you watch the sky, or put an end to 
public business because evil omens are announced ? When 
you are preparing for war, 4 do you hang out a flag from 
the citadel, or practise the forms of the Fetiales, solemnly 5 
demanding the return of what has been carried off ? or, 
when encountering the dangers of war, do you begin to hope 
also, because of favourable omens from the points of the 
spears 1 6 In entering on office, do you still observe the laws 
fixing the proper times f with regard to gifts and presents [to 
advocates, do you observe] the Cincian and the sumptuary 
laws in restricting your expenses ? Do you maintain fires, 
ever burning, in gloomy sanctuaries ? 7 Do you consecrate 
tables by putting on them salt-cellars and images of the gods? 
When you marry, do you spread the couch with a toga, and 

1 Lit., " with the condemnation of." 

2 This shows that the division of the people into classes was obsolete 
in the time of Arnobius. 

3 Turnebus has explained this as merely another way of saying the 
comitia centuriata, curiata, and trilmta. 

4 So the edd., reading cum paratis bella (Oehler reads reparantes) for 
the MS. reparatis. 

5 i.e. per clarigationem, the solemn declaration of war, if restitution 
was not made within thirty-three days. 

6 This seems the most natural way to deal with the clause et ex acu- 
minibus auspicatis, looking on the last word as an adjective, not a verb, 
as most edd. seem to hold it. There is great diversity of opinion as to 
what this omen was. 

7 The MS. reads in penetralibus et coliginis. LB., followed by Orelli, 
merely omits et, as above, while the first five edd. read in pen. Vestx, 
ignis— ■" do you maintain the hearths of Vesta's fire." Many other read- 
ings and many explanations of the passage are also proposed. 

138 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

invoke the genii of husbands ? do you arrange the hair of 
brides with the hasta caelibaris? do you bear the maidens' 
garments to the temple of Fortuna Virginalis ? Do your 
matrons work in the halls of your houses, showing their 
industry openly ? do they refrain from drinking wine ? are 
their friends and relations allowed to kiss them, in order that 
they may show that they are sober and temperate 1 

68. On the Alban hill, it was not allowed in ancient times 
to sacrifice any but snow-white bulls : have you not changed 
that custom and religious observance, and [has it not been] 
enacted by decree of the senate, that reddish ones may be 
offered? While during the reigns of Romulus and Pom- 
pilius the inner parts, having been quite thoroughly cooked 
and softened, were burnt up [in sacrificing] to the gods, did 
you not begin, under king Tullius, 1 to hold them out half-raw 
and slightly warm, paying no regard to the former usage ? 
While before the arrival of Hercules in Italy supplication 
was made to father Dis and Saturn with the heads of men 
by Apollo's advice ; have you not, in like manner, changed 
this custom too, by means of cunning deceit and ambiguous 
names 1 2 Since, then, you yourselves also have followed at 
one time these customs, at another different laws, and have 
repudiated and rejected many things on either perceiving 
your mistakes or seeing something better, what have we done 
contrary to common sense and the discretion all men have, if 
we have chosen what is greater and more certain, and have 
not suffered ourselves to be held back by unreasoning respect 
for impostures ? 

69. But our name is new, [we are told,] and the religion 
which we follow arose but a few days ago. Granting for the 
present that what you urge against us is not untrue, what is 
there, [I would ask,] among the affairs of men that is either 
done by bodily exertion and manual labour, or attained by 
the mind's learning and knowledge, which did not begin 
at some time, and pass into general use and practice since 

1 i.e. Servius Tullius. The first four edd. read Tullo, i.e. Tullus 

2 Ct. v. c. 1. 


then ? Medicine, 1 philosophy, music, and all the other arts 
by which social life has been built up and refined, — were 
these born with men, and did they not rather begin to be 
pursued, understood, and practised lately, nay, rather, but a 
short time since? Before the Etruscan Tages saw the 2 
light, did any one know or trouble himself to know and learn 
what meaning there was in the fall of thunderbolts, or in 
the veins of the victims sacrificed ? 3 When did the motion 
of the stars or the art of calculating nativities begin to be 
known ? Was it not after Theutis 4 the Egyptian ; or after 
Atlas, as some say, the bearer, supporter, stay, [and] prop of 
the skies ? 

70. But why do I [speak of] these trivial things ! The im- 
mortal gods themselves, whose temples you now enter [with 
reverence], whose deity you suppliantly adore, did they not at 
certain times, as is handed down by your writings and tradi- 
tions, begin to be, to be known and to be invoked by names 
and titles which were given to them % For if it is true that 
Jupiter with his brothers was born of Saturn and his wife, 
before Ops was married and bore children Jupiter had not 
existed both the Supreme and the Stygian, 5 no, nor the lord 
of the sea, nor Juno, nay more, no one inhabited the heavenly 
seats except the two parents ; but from their union [the other 
gods] were conceived and born, and breathed the breath of 
life. So, then, at a certain time the god Jupiter began to 
be, at a certain time to merit worship and sacrifices, at a 
certain time to be set above his brothers in power. 6 But, 
again, if Liber, Yenus, Diana, Mercury, Apollo, Hercules, 
the Muses, the Tyndarian brothers, 7 and Yulcan the lord of 

1 The MS. reads tdi in Jilosophia ; the first four edd., PMlos. ; Elmenh. 
and Orelli, Etenim phil. — " For were phil. ;" LB., Ede an pliil. — "say 
whether phil.," which is, however, faulty in construction, as the indi- 
cative follows. Rigaltius, followed by Oehler, emended as above, Medi- 
cina phil. 

2 Lit., " reached the coasts of." 

3 Lit., " of the intestines" — extorum. 

4 In both Roman edd., Theutatem, i.e. Theutas. Cf. Plato, Phsedrus, 
st. p. 274. 

5 i.e. Pluto. c PI. ? Lit., " Castors," i.e. Castor and Pollux. 

140 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

fire, were begotten by father Jupiter, and born of a parent 
sprung from Saturn, before that Memory, Alcmena, Main, 
Juno, Latona, Leda, Dione, and Semele also bore children 
to Diespiter ; these [deities], too, were nowhere in the world, 
nor in any part of the universe, but by Jupiter's embraces 
they were begotten and born, and began to have some sense 
of their own existence. So then, these, too, began to be at 
a certain time, and to be summoned among the gods to the 
sacred rites. This we say, in like manner, of Minerva. For 
if, as you assert, she burst forth from Jupiter's head un- 
generated, 1 before Jupiter was begotten, and received in his 
mother's womb the shape and outline of his body, 2 it is quite 
certain that Minerva did not exist, and was not reckoned 
among things or as existing at all ; but from Jove's head 
she was born, and began to have a real existence. She 
therefore has an origin at the first, and began to be called a 
goddess at a certain time, to be set up in temples, and to be 
consecrated by the inviolable obligations of religion. Now 
as this is the case, when you talk of the novelty of our reli- 
gion, does your own not come into your thoughts, and do 
you not take care to examine when your gods sprung up, — 
what origins, what causes they have, or from what stocks 
they have burst forth and sprung? But how shameful, 
how shameless it is to censure that in another which you see 
that you do yourself, — to take occasion to revile and accuse 
[others] for things which can be retorted upon you in turn ! 

71. But our rites are 3 new; yours are ancient, and of 
excessive antiquity, [we are told.] And what help does that 
give you, or how does it damage our cause and argument ? 
The belief 4 which we hold is new; some day even it, too, 
will become old : yours is old ; but when it arose, it was new 
and unheard of. The credibility of a religion, however, 
must not be determined by its age, but by its divinity : and 
you should consider not when, but what you began to wor- 
ship. Four hundred years ago, my opponent says, your 
religion did not exist. And two thousand years ago, [I 

1 i.e. sine ullius seminisjactu. 2 Lit., "forms of bodily circumscription." 
8 Lit., " what we do is." 4 Lit., " tiling." 


reply,] your gods did not exist. By what reckoning, [you 
ask,] or by what calculations, can that be inferred ! They 
are not difficult, not intricate, but can be seen by any one 
who will take them in hand even, as the saying is. Who 
begot Jupiter and his brothers?' Saturn with Ops, as you 
relate, sprung from Coelus and Hecate. Who begot Picus, 
the father of Faunus and grandfather of Latinus? Saturn, 
as you again hand down by your books and teachers ? 
Therefore, if this is the case, Picus and Jupiter are in con- 
sequence united by the bond of kinship, inasmuch as they 
are sprung from one stock and race. It is clear, then, that 
what we say is true. Plow many steps are there in coming 
down * from Jupiter and Picus to Latinus ! Three, as the 
line of succession shows. Will you suppose Faunus, Lati- 
nus, and Picus to have each lived a hundred and twenty 
years, for beyond this it is affirmed that man's life cannot 
be prolonged ? The estimation is well grounded and clear. 
There are, then, three hundred and sixty years after these? 2 
It is just as the calculation shows. Whose father-in-law 
was Latinus ? -ZEneas'. Whose father [was] he ? 3 [He 
was father] of the founder of the town Alba. How many 
years did kings reign in Alba ? Four hundred and twenty 
almost. Of what age is the city Rome shown to be in the 
annals? It reckons fifteen 4 hundred years, or not much 
less. So, then, from Jupiter, who is the brother of Picus 
and father of the other and lesser gods, down to the present 
time, there are nearly, or to add a little to the time, alto- 
gether, two thousand years. Now since this cannot be con- 
tradicted, not only is the religion to which you adhere shown 
to have sprung up lately; but [it is also shown] that the 
gods themselves, to whom you heap up bulls and other vic- 

1 Lit., " how many steps are there of race." 

2 i.e. Jupiter and Picus. 

3 The MS. reads genitor . . . Latinus cujus, some letters having been 
erased. The reading followed above — genitor is cujus — was suggested 
to Canterus by his friend Gifanius, and is found in the margin of Ur- 
sinus and Orelli. 

4 Cf. above, "four hundred years ago," etc., and i. ch. 13. It is of 
importance to note that Arnobius is inconsistent in these statements. 

142 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book ii. 

tims at the risk of bringing on disease, are young and little 
children, who should still be fed with their mothers' milk. 1 

72. But your religion precedes ours by many years, and 
is therefore, [you say,] truer, because it has been supported 
by the authority of antiquity. And of what avail is it that 
it should precede [ours] as many years as you please, since 
it began at a certain time ? or what 2 are two thousand years, 
compared with so many thousands of ages ? And yet, lest 
we should seem to betray [our] cause by so long neglect, say, 
if it does not annoy you, does the Almighty and Supreme 
God seem to you to be something new ; and do those who 
adore and worship him [seem to you] to support and intro- 
duce an unheard-of, unknown, and upstart religion? Is 
there anything older than him ? or can anything be found 
preceding him in being, 3 time, name? Is not he alone 
uncreated, immortal, and everlasting? Who is the head 4 and 
fountain of things ? is not he ? To whom does eternity owe 
its name ? is it not to him ? Is it not because he is ever- 
lasting, that the ages go on without end? This is beyond 
doubt, and true : [the religion] which we follow is not new, 
then, but we have been late in learning what we should 
follow and revere, or where we should both fix our hope of 
salvation, and employ the aid [given] to save us. For he 
had not yet shone forth who was to point out the way to 
those wandering [from it], and give the light of knowledge to 
those who were lying in the deepest darkness, and dispel the 
blindness of their ignorance. 

73. But are we alone in this position ? 5 What ! have you 
not introduced into the number of your gods the Egyptian 
deities named Serapis and Isis, since the consulship of Piso 
and Gabinius? 6 What! did you not begin both to know 

1 Lit., " be nursed with the breasts and dropt milk." 

2 Lit., " of what space." 3 i.e. re. 

4 So the MS., according to Crusius and Livineius, reading ac ; all edd. 
except Oehler read aut — "head (i.e. source) or fountain." 

5 The MS. reads unintelligibly vertitur solas; for which LB., followed 
by the later edd, reads, as above, vertimur soli. 

c Dr. Schmitz (Smith's Did., s. v. Isis) speaks of these consuls as head- 


and be acquainted with, and to worship with remarkable 
honours, the Phrygian mother — who, it is said, was first set 
up as a goddess by Midas or Dardanus — when Hannibal, 
the Carthaginian, was plundering Italy and aiming at the 
empire of the world ? x Are not the sacred rites of mother 
Ceres, which were adopted but a little while ago, called 
Grasca because they were unknown to you, their name 
bearing witness to their novelty? Is it not said 2 in the 
writings of the learned, that the rituals of Numa Pompilius 
do not contain the name of Apollo ? Now it is clear and 
manifest from this, that he, too, was unknown to you, but 
that at some time afterwards he bep;an to be known also. If 
any one, therefore, should ask you why you have so lately 
begun to worship those deities whom w T e mentioned just 
now, it is certain that you will reply, either because we were 
[till] lately not aware that they were gods, or because we 
have now been warned by the seers, or because, in very 
trying circumstances, we have been preserved by their favour 
and help. But if you think that this is well said by you, 
you must consider that, on our part, a similar reply has been 
made. Our religion has sprung up just now ; for now he 
has arrived who was sent to declare it to us, to bring [us] to 
its truth ; to show what God is ; to summon us from mere 
conjectures, to his worship. 

74. And why, [my opponent] says, did God, the ruler 
and lord [of the universe], determine that a Saviour, Christ, 
should be sent to you from the heights of heaven a few 
hours ago, as it is said? We ask you too, on the other 
hand, what cause, what reason is there that the seasons 
sometimes do not recur at their own months, but that winter, 

ing the popular revolt against the decree of the senate, that the statues 
of Isis and Serapis should be removed from the Capitol. The words of 
Tertullian (quoting Yarro as his authority) are very distinct: "The 
consul Gabinius . . . gave more weight to the decision of the senate 
than to the popular impulse, and forbade their altars (i.e. those of Sera- 
pis, Isis, Arpocrates, and Anubis) to be set up " (ad Nationes, i. 10, cf. 
Apol. 6). 

1 Cf. vii. 49. 2 Lit#) it contained." 

144 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book n. 

summer, and autumn come too late? "why, after the crops 
have been dried up and the corn 1 has perished, showers some- 
times fall which should have dropped on them while yet 
uninjured, and made provision for the wants of the time? 
Nay, this we rather ask, why, if it were fitting that Hercules 
should be born, JEsculapius, Mercury, Liber, and some 
others, that they might be both added to the assemblies of 
the gods, and might do men some service, — why they were 
produced so late by Jupiter, that only later ages should know 
them, while the past ages 2 of those who went before knew 
them not ? You will say that there was some reason. There 
was then some reason here also that the Saviour of our race 
came not lately, but to-day. What, then, [you ask,] is the 
reason ? "We do not deny that we do not know. For it is 
not within the power of any one to see the mind of God, or 
the way in which he has arranged his plans. 3 Man, a blind 
creature, and not knowing himself even, can 4 in no way 
learn what should happen, when, or what its nature is : the 
Father himself, the Governor and Lord of all, alone knows. 
Nor, if I have been unable to disclose to you the causes why 
something is done in this way or that, does it straightway 
follow, that wdiat has been done becomes not done, and that 
a thing becomes incredible, which has been shown to be 
beyond doubt by such 5 virtues and 6 powers. 

75. You may object and rejoin, Why was the Saviour 
sent forth so late ? In unbounded, eternal ages, [we reply,] 
nothing whatever should be spoken of as late. For where 
there is no end and no beginning, nothing is too soon, 7 

1 PL 2 Lit., " antiquity." 3 Lit., " things." 

4 So Gelcnius emended the MS., reading potens — " being able," which 
he changed into potest, as above, followed by later edd. 
8 Lit., " by such kinds of." 

6 The MS. and first edd. read et potestatibus potestatum — "and by 
powers of powers;" the other edd. merely omit potestatibus, as above, 
except Oehler, who, retaining it, changes potestatum into protestata — 
" being witnessed to by," etc. ; but there is no instance adduced in which 
the participle of this verb is used passively. 

7 These words having been omitted by Oberthiir, are omitted by 
Orelli also, as in previous instances. 


nothing too late. For time is perceived from its beginnings 
and endings, which an unbroken line and endless 1 succession 
of ages cannot have. For what if the things themselves to 
which it was necessary to bring help, required that as a 
fitting time? For what if the condition of antiquity was 
different from that of later times 1 What if it was necessary 
to give help to the men of old in one way, to provide for 
their descendants in another f Do you not hear your own 
writings read, telling that there were once men [who were] 
demi-gods, heroes with immense and huge bodies 1 Do you 
not read that infants on their mothers' breasts shrieked like 
Stentors, 2 whose bones, when dug up in different parts of the 
earth, have made the discoverers almost doubt that they were 
the remains of human limbs? So, then, it may be that 
Almighty God, the only God, sent forth Christ then indeed, 
after that the human race, [becoming] feebler, weaker, began 
to be such as we are. If that which has been done now 
could have been done thousands of years ago, the Supreme 
Ruler would have done it ; or if it had been proper, that what 
has been done now should be accomplished as many thousands 
after this, nothing compelled God to anticipate the necessary 
lapse 3 of time. His plans 4 are executed in fixed ways; and 
that which has been once decided on, can in no wise be 
changed again. 5 

76. Inasmuch then, you say, as you serve the Almighty 
God, and trust that He cares for your safety and salva- 
tion, why does He suffer you to be exposed to such storms 
of persecution, and to undergo all kinds of punishments 
and tortures ? Let us, too, ask in reply, why, seeing that 
you worship so great and so innumerable gods, and build 
temples to them, fashion images of gold, sacrifice herds 

1 The Ms. and first ed. read etiam moderata continuatio ; corrected, et 
immod. con. by Gelenius. 

2 So the edd., reading infantes stentoreos, except Oehler, who retains 
the MS. reading centenarios, which he explains as "having a hundred" 
heads or hands, as the case might be, e.g. Typhon, Briareus, etc. 

3 Lit, " measure." * Lit) things." 
5 Lit., " can be changed with no novelty." 


146 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book it. 

of animals, [and] all heap up 1 boxfuls of incense on the 
already loaded altars, why you live subject to so many 
dangers and storms [of calamity], with which many fatal 
misfortunes vex you every day ? Why, I say, do your gods 
neglect to avert from you so many kinds of disease and 
sickness, shipwrecks, downfalls, conflagrations, pestilences, 
barrenness, loss of children, and confiscation of goods, dis- 
cords, wars, enmities, captures of cities, and the slavery of 
those who are robbed of their rights of free birth ? 2 But, 
[my opponent says,] in such mischances we, too, are in no 
wise helped by God. The cause is plain and manifest. For 
no hope has been held out to us with respect to this life, nor 
has any help been promised or 3 aid decreed us for what 
belongs to the husk of this flesh, — nay, more, we have been 
taught to esteem and value lightly all the threats of fortune, 
whatever they be ; and if ever any very grievous calamity 
has assailed [us], to count as pleasant in [that] misfortune 4 
the end which must follow, and not to fear or flee from it, 
that we may be the more easily released from the bonds of 
the body, and escape from our darkness and 5 blindness. 

77. Therefore that bitterness of persecution of which you 
speak is our deliverance and not persecution, and our ill- 
treatment will not bring evil upon us, but will lead us to 
the light of liberty. As if some senseless and stupid fellow 
were to think that he never punished a man who had been 
put into prison 6 with severity and cruelty, unless he were to 
rage against the very prison, break its stones in pieces, and 

1 Lit., " provide," conjiciatis, which, however, some would under- 
stand "consume." 

2 Lit., "slaveries, their free births being taken away." 

3 Lit., "and." 

4 So the MS., first five edd., Hild., and Oehler, reading adscribere in- 
fortunio voluptatem, which is omitted in the other edd. as a gloss which 
may have crept in from the margin. 

5 Lit, " our dark." 

6 The MS. and both Roman edd. read in carcerem natum inegressum ; 
LB. and later edd. have received from the margin of Ursinus the reading 
translated above, datum, omitting the last word altogether, which Oehler, 
however, would retain as equivalent to " not to be passed from." 


burn its roof, its wall, its doors ; and strip, overthrow, and 
dash to the ground its other parts, not knowing that thus 
he was giving light to him whom he seemed to be injuring, 
and was taking from him the accursed darkness: in like 
manner, you too, by the flames, banishments, tortures, and 
monsters with which you tear in pieces and rend asunder 
our bodies, do not rob us of life, but relieve us of our skins, 
not knowing that, as far as you assault and seek to rage 
against these our shadows and forms, so far you free us 
from pressing and heavy chains, and cutting our bonds, 
make us fly up to the light. 

78. Wherefore, O men, refrain from obstructing what 
you hope for by vain questions ; nor should you, if anything 
is otherwise than you think, trust your own opinions rather 
than that which should be reverenced. 1 The times, full of 
dangers, urge us, and fatal penalties threaten us ; let us flee 
for safety to God our Saviour, without demanding the reason 
of the offered gift. When that at stake is our souls' salva- 
tion and our own interests, something must be done even 
without reason, as Arrhianus approves of Epictetus having 
said. 2 We doubt, we hesitate, and suspect the credibility of 
what is said ; let us commit ourselves to God, and let not 
our incredulity prevail more with us than the greatness of 
His name and power, lest, while we are seeking out argu- 
ments for ourselves, through which that may seem false 
which we do not wish and deny to be true, the last day steal 
upon us, and we be found in the jaws of our enemy, death. 

1 Lit., " than an august tiling." 

2 Orelli refers to Arrh. i. 12 5 but the doctrine there insisted on is the 
necessity of submission to what is unavoidable. Oehler, in addition, 
refers to Epict. xxxii. 3, where, however, it is merely attempted to 
show that when anything is withheld from us, it is just as goods are 
unless paid for, and that we have therefore no reason to complain. 
Neither passage can be referred to here, and it seems as though Arno- 
bius has made a very loose reference which cannot be specially identified. 



In the two preceding books, Arnobius endeavoured to repel the ob- 
jections raised against Christianity ; but already, he says, it had found 
able defenders, though strong enough in its own might to need none 
(1) ; and therefore, having replied to the charge of neglecting the 
worship of the gods, by asserting that in worshipping the Supreme God, 
the Creator of the universe, any other gods, if there are such, receive 
honour, inasmuch as they are sprung from him (2, 3), he goes on to at- 
tack heathenism itself, pointing out that the other gods cannot be proved 
to exist, their names and number being alike unknown (•!, 5). These 
gods, moreover, are spoken of as male and female, but the divine cannot 
be liable to such distinctions, as Cicero showed (6) ; whom it would be 
well, therefore, for the heathen to refute, instead of merely raising an 
unreasoning clamour against his writings (7). The use by Christians of 
a masculine term to denote the Deity, is merely a necessity of speech ; 
but the heathen expressly attributed sex to their deities (8), who would 
therefore, being immortal, be innumerable ; or if the gods did not beget 
children, why had they sex (9) ? Arnobius then inveighs against this 
opinion as degrading and dishonouring the gods (10), and says that it is 
far more likely that they would afflict men to punish such insults, than 
to take vengeance on Christians, who did them no dishonour (11). He 
then goes on to speak of bodily form, denying that it is attributed to 
the Deity by Christians (12), while the heathen boldly asserted that their 
gods had human bodies, which, Arnobius shows, makes it necessary to 
ascribe to some gods the basest offices (13-15). It might, however, be 
said that the gods were not really supposed to have such bodies, but 
were so spoken of out of respect. This, Arnobius shows, is not honour- 
ing, but insulting, them as much as possible (16). If the Deity has any 
mortal shape, we do not know it (17) ; he may hear, see, and speak in 
his own, but not in our way (18) ; and it is unbecoming to ascribe even 
our virtues to God, — we can only say that his nature cannot be de- 
clared by man (19). 

The offices ascribed to the gods are next derisively commented on 
(20, 21) ; and as to the suggestion that the gods impart a knowledge of 
the arts over which they preside, without being practically acquainted 
with them, it is asked why the gods should seek this knowledge, when 
they had no opportunity of turning it to account (22). It might, how- 



ever, be said that it belonged to the gods to secure a prosperous issue to 
human undertakings. Why, then, failure, ruin, and destruction (23)? 
Because, it would be answered, of neglected rites, and sacrifices withheld. 
Is, then, Arnobius asks, the favour of the gods to be purchased? is it not 
theirs to give to those utterly destitute (24) ? Unxia, Cinxia, Vita, and 
Potua are held up as foul parodies on Deity (25). Mars and Venus being 
taken as fair examples (26, 27), the conclusion is reached, that such 
gods, presiding over lust, discord, and war, cannot be believed in (28). 
The inconsistent and mutually destructive opinions entertained with 
regard to Janus, Saturn (29), Jupiter, Juno (30), and other gods, render 
belief in them impossible (31-34) ; while if, as some believe, the world is 
a living being, the deities cannot exist which are said to be parts of it, 
as the sun, moon, etc., for the whole will have life, not its members (35). 
Thus the heathen plainly subvert all faith in their religion, however 
zealous against Christian innovations (36). They do so still further, by 
the ridiculous inconsistency of their opinions as to the origin and num- 
bers of their gods, in particular of the Muses (37, 38) ; the Novensiles 
(38, 39) ; the Penates (40) ; and the Lares (41). 

Arnobius, having thus shown that the heathen are in doubt and igno- 
rance as to all their gods, a circumstance giving rise to confusion in 
seeking to celebrate their rites (42, 43), calls upon them to decide on 
their creed, and abide by it (44). 

LL these charges, then, which might truly be 
better termed abuse, have been long answered 
with sufficient fulness and accuracy by men 
of distinction in this respect, and worthy to 
have learned the truth ; and not one point of any inquiry has 
been passed over, without being determined in a thousand 
ways, and on the strongest grounds. We need not, therefore, 
linger further on this part of the case. For neither is the 
Christian religion unable to stand though it found no advo- 
cates, nor will it be therefore proved true if it found many 
to agree with it, and gained weight through its adherents. 1 
Its own strength is sufficient for it, and it rests on the foun- 
dations of its own truth, without losing its power, though 
there w T ere none to defend it, nay, though all voices assailed 

1 The MS., followed by Oehler, reads neque cnim res stare . . . non 
potest, Christiana religio aut — "for neither can a thing not stand, . . . 
nor will the Christian religion," etc., while LB. merely changes aut 
into et — " for neither can a thing, i.e. the Christian religion, . . . nor will 
it," etc. All other edd. read as above, omitting et. 

150 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book hi. 

and opposed it, and united with common rancour to destroy 
all faith 1 in it. 

2. Let us now return to the order from which we were a 
little ago compelled to diverge, that our defence may not, 
through its being too long broken off, be said to have given 
our detractors cause to triumph in the establishing of their 
charge. For they propose these questions : If you are in 
earnest about religion, why do you not serve and worship 
the other gods with us, or share your sacred rites with your 
fellows, and put the ceremonies of the [different] religions on 
an equality? We may say for the present: In essaying to 
approach the divine, the Supreme Deity 2 suffices us, — the 
Deity, I say, who is supreme, the Creator and Lord of the 
universe, who orders and rules all things : in him we serve 
all that requires our service ; [in him] we worship all that 
should be adored, — venerate 3 that which demands the homage 
of our reverence. For as we lay hold of the source of the 
divine itself, from which the very divinity of all gods what- 
ever is derived, 4 we think it -an idle task to approach each 
personally, since we neither know who they are, nor the 
names by which they are called ; and are further unable to 
learn, and discover, and establish their number. 

3. And as in the kingdoms of earth we are in no wise 
constrained expressly to do reverence to those who form the 
royal family as well as to the sovereigns, but whatever honour 
belongs to them is found to be tacitly implied in the homage 

1 According to Crusius and others, the MS. reads finem ; but, accord- 
ing to HM.,jidem, as above. 

2 Deus primus, according to Nourry, in relation to Christ ; but mani- 
festly from the scope of the chapter, God as the fountain and source of 
all things. 

3 Lit., " propitiate with venerations." 

4 So the MS., reading ducitur ; for which Oberthur, followed by Orelli, 
reads dicitur — "is said." 

5 Lit., " whatever belongs to them feels itself to be comprehended with 
a tacit rendering also of honour in," etc., tacita et se sentit honorificentia, 
read by later edd. for the MS. ut se sentit — "but as whatever," retained 
by Hild. and Oehler ; while the first four edd. read vi—" feels itself with 
a silent force comprehended in the honour in," etc. 


offered to the kings themselves ; in just the same way, these 
gods, whoever they be, for whose existence you vouch, if 
they are a royal race, and spring from the Supreme Ruler, 
even though we do not expressly do them reverence, yet feel 
that they are honoured in common with their Lord, and share 
in the reverence shown to him. Now [it must be remem- 
bered that] we have made this statement, on the hypothesis 
only that it is clear and undeniable, that besides the Ruler 
and Lord himself, there are still other beings, 1 who, when 
arranged and disposed in order, form, as it were, a kind of 
plebeian mass. But do not seek to point out to us pictures 
instead of gods in your temples, and the images [which you 
set up], for you too know, but are unwilling and refuse to 
admit, that these are formed of most worthless clay, and are 
childish figures made by mechanics. And when we converse 
with you on religion, we ask you to prove this, that there are 
other gods [than the one Supreme Deity] in nature, power, 
name, not as we see them manifested in images, but in such 
a substance as it might fittingly be supposed that perfection 
of so great dignity should reside. 

4. But we do not purpose delaying further on this part 
of the subject, lest we seem desirous to stir up most violent 
strife, and eno-age in agitating contests. 

Let there be, as you affirm, that crowd of deities, let there 
be numberless families of gods ; we assent, agree, [and] do 
not examine [too] closely, nor in any part of the subject 
do we assail the doubtful and uncertain positions you hold. 
This, however, w T e demand, and ask you to tell us, whence 
you have discovered, or how 7 you have learned, whether there 
are these gods, 2 whom you believe to be in heaven and serve, 
or some others unknown by reputation and name ? For it 
may be that beings exist whom you do not believe to do so ; 

1 So LB. and Orelli, reading alia etiamnum capita for the MS. alienum 
capita, read in the first five edd., alia non capita — " are others not 
chiefs;" Hild., followed by Oehler, proposes alia deum capita — "other 

2 According to Orelli's punctuation, " whether there are these gods in 
heaven whom," etc. 

152 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book hi. 

and that those of whose existence you feel assured, are found 
nowhere in the universe. For you have at no time been 
borne aloft to the stars of heaven, [at no time] have seen the 
face and countenance of each ; and [then] established here 
the worship of the same gods, whom you remembered to be 
there, as having been known and seen [by you]. But this, 
too, we again would learn from you, whether they have re- 
ceived these names by which you call them, or assumed 
them themselves on the days of purification. 1 If these are 
divine and celestial names, who reported them to you ? But 
if, on the other hand, these names have been applied to them 
by you, how could you give names to those whom you never 
saw, and whose character or circumstances you in no wise 2 
knew ? 

5. But [let it be assumed] that there are these gods, as 
you wish and believe, and are persuaded ; let them be called 
also by those names by which the common people suppose 
that those meaner [gods] 3 are known. 4 Whence, however, 
have you learned who make up the list [of gods] under these 
names? 5 have any ever become familiar and known [to 
others] with whose names you were not acquainted ? G For 
it cannot be easily known whether their numerous body is 
settled and fixed [in number] ; or whether their multitude 
cannot be summed up and limited by the numbers of any 
computation. For let us suppose that you do reverence to 
a thousand, or rather five thousand gods ; but in the uni- 

1 So LB. and later cdd., from a conj. of Meursius, reading diebus lus- 
tricis for the MS. ludibriis ; read by some, and understood by others, as 
ludicris, i.e. festal days. 

" The MS., followed by Hild. and Oeliler, reads neque . . . in ulla cog- 
natione — "in no relationship," for which the other edd. give cognitione, 
as above. 

3 So all edd., reading populares, except Hild. and Oehler, who receive 
the conj. of Rigaltius, populatim — " among all nations ;" the MS. reading 

4 Censeri, i.e. " written in the list of gods." 

5 Otherwise, " how many make up the list of this name." 

c So Orelli, receiving the emendation of Barth, incogniti nomine, for 
the MS. in cognitione, -one being an abbreviation for nomine. Examples 
of such deities are the Novensiles, Consentes, etc., cc. 88-41. 


verse it may perhaps be that there are a hundred thousands ; 
there may be even more than this, — nay, as we said a little 
before, it may not be possible to compute the number of the 
gods, or limit them by a definite number. Either, then, you 
are yourselves impious who serve a few gods, but disregard 
the duties which you owe to the rest ; x or if }'ou claim that 
your ignorance of the rest should be pardoned, you will pro- 
cure for us also a similar pardon, if in just the same way 2 
we refuse to worship those of whose existence w T e are wholly 

6. And yet let no one think that we are perversely deter- 
mined not to submit to 3 the other deities, whoever they are ! 
For we [lift up] pious minds, and stretch forth our hands in 
prayer, 4 and do not refuse to draw near whithersoever you 
may have summoned us ; if only we learn who those divine 
beings are whom you press upon us, and w T ith whom it may 
be right to share the reverence which we show to the kino; 
and prince who is over all. It is Saturn, [my opponent] says, 
and Janus, Minerva, Juno, Apollo, Venus, Triptolemus, Her- 
cules, .ZEsculapius, and all the others, to whom the reverence 
of antiquity dedicated magnificent temples in almost every 
city. You might, perhaps, have been able to attract us to 
the worship of these deities you mention, had you not been 
yourselves the first, with foul and unseemly fancies, to de- 
vise such tales about them as not merely to stain their 
honour, but, by the natures assigned to them, to prove that 
they did not exist at all. For, in the first place, we cannot 
be led to believe this, — that that immortal and supreme 

1 Lit., " who, except a few gods, do not engage in the services of the 

8 Orelli would explain pro parte consimili as equivalent to pro uno 
vero Deo — " for the one true God." 

3 Lit., "take the oaths of allegiance," or military oaths, using a very 
common metaphor applied to Christians in the preceding book, c. 5. 

4 Lit., "suppliant hands." It has been thought that the word sup- 
plices is a gloss, and that the idea originally was that of a band of sol- 
diers holding out their hands as they swore to be true to their country 
and leaders ; but there is no want of simplicity and congruity in the 
sentence as it stands, to warrant us in rejecting the word. 

154 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book hi. 

nature has been divided by sexes, and that there are some 
male, others female. But this point, indeed, has been long 
ago fully treated of by men of ardent genius, both in Latin 
and Greek ; and Tullius, the most eloquent among the 
Romans, without dreading the vexatiousness of a charge of 
impiety, has above all, with greater piety, 1 declared — boldly, 
firmly, and frankly — what he thought of such a fancy ; and 
if you would proceed to receive from him opinions written 
with true discernment, instead of [merely] brilliant sen- 
tences, this case would have been concluded ; nor would it 
require at our weak hands 2 a second pleading, 3 as it is 

7. But why should I say that men seek from him subtle- 
ties of expression and splendour of diction, when I know 
that there are many who avoid and flee from his books on 
this subject, and will not hear his opinions read, 4 overthrow- 
ing their prejudices ; and when I hear others muttering 
angrily, and saying that the senate should decree the de- 
struction 5 of these writings by which the Christian religion 
is maintained, and the weight of antiquity overborne ? But, 
indeed, if you are convinced that anything you say regard- 
ing your gods is beyond doubt, point out Cicero's error, 
refute, rebut his rash and impious words, [and] show [that 
they are so]. For when you would carry off writings, and 
suppress a book given forth to the public, you are not de- 
fending the gods, but dreading the evidence of the truth. 

8. And yet, that no thoughtless person may raise a false 

1 i.e. than the inventors of such fables had shown. 

2 Lit., " from us infants," i.e. as compared with such a man as 

3 Secundas actiones. The reference is evidently to a second speaker, 
who makes good his predecessor's defects. 

4 Lit., "are unwilling to admit into their ear the reading of opinions," 

5 Both Christians and heathen, it is probable, were concerned in the 
mutilation of de Nat. Deorum. 

6 So Gelenius, reading dicta for the MS. dictitare. The last verb is 
comprobate, read reprobate — "condemn," by all edd. except Hild. and 


accusation against us, as though we believe Gocl whom we 
worship to be male, — for this reason, that is, that when we 
speak of him we use a masculine word, — let him understand 
that it is not sex which is expressed, but his name, and its 
meaning according to custom, and the way in which we are 
in the habit of using words. 1 For the Deity is not male, but 
his name is of the masculine gender : but in your ceremonies 
you cannot say the same ; for in your prayers you have been 
wont to say whether thou art god or goddess? and this uncer- 
tain description shows, even by their opposition, that you 
attribute sex to the gods. We cannot, then, be prevailed on 
to believe that the divine is embodied ; for bodies must needs 
be distinguished by difference of sex, if they are male and 
female. For who, however mean his capacity, 3 does not 
know that the sexes of different gender have been ordained 
and formed by the Creator of the creatures of earth, only that, 
by intercourse and union of bodies, that which is fleeting and 
transient may endure being ever renewed and maintained ? 4 
9. What, then, shall we say 1 That gods beget and are 
begotten? 5 and that therefore they have received organs of 
generation, that they might be able to raise up offspring, and 
that, as each new race springs up, a substitution, regularly 
occurring, 6 should make up for all which had been swept 
away by the preceding age ! If, then, it is so, — that is, if the 
gods above beget [other gods], and are subject to these condi- 
tions of sex/ and are immortal, and are not worn out by the 
chills of age, — it follows, as a consequence, that the world 8 
should be full of gods, and that countless heavens could not 
contain their multitude, inasmuch as they are both them- 

1 Lit., " with familiarity of speech." 

2 A formula used when they sought to propitiate the author of some 
event which could not be traced to a particular deity ; referring also to 
the cases in which there were different opinions as to the sex of a deity. 

3 Lit., " even of mean understanding." 

4 Lit., " "by the renewing of perpetual succession." 

5 Lit., " that gods are born." 

6 Lit., " recurring," " arising again." 

7 Lit., " make trial of themselves by these laws of sex." 

8 Lit., " all things," etc. 


selves ever begetting, and the countless multitude of their 
descendants, always being increased, is augmented by means 
of their offspring ; or if, as is fitting, the gods are not de- 
graded by being subjected to sexual impulses, 1 what cause 
or reason will be pointed out for their being distinguished 
by those members by which the sexes are wont to recognise 
each other at the suggestion of their own desires ? For it is 
not likely that they have these [members] without a purpose, 
or that nature had wished in them to make sport of its own 
improvidence, 2 in providing them with members for which 
there would be no use. For as the hands, feet, eyes, and 
other members which form our body, 3 have been arranged 
for certain uses, each for its own end, so we may well 4 be- 
lieve that these members have been provided to discharge 
their office ; or it must be confessed that there is something 
without a purpose in the bodies of the gods, which has been 
made uselessly and in vain. 

10. What say you, ye holy and pure guardians of religion ? 
Have the gods, then, sexes ; and are they disfigured by those 
parts, the very mention of whose names by modest lips is 
disgraceful ? What, then, now T remains, but to believe that 
they, as unclean beasts, are transported with violent passions, 
rush w T ith maddened desires into mutual embraces, and at 
last, with shattered and ruined bodies, are enfeebled by their 
sensuality? And since some things are peculiar to the female 
sex, we must believe that the goddesses, too, submit to these 
conditions at the proper time, conceive and become pregnant 
with loathing, miscarry, carry the full time, and sometimes 
are prematurely delivered. O divinity, pure, holy, free from 
and unstained by any dishonourable blot ! The mind longs 
and burns to see, in the great halls and palaces of heaven, 

1 Lit., " if the impurity of sexual union is wanting to the gods." 

2 So the first five edd. 

3 Lit., " the other arrangement of members." 

4 Lit., " it is fitting to believe." 

6 The MS., followed by Hild., reads habct et animum — "has it a mind to, 
and does it," etc. ; for which Gelenius, followed by later edd., reads, as 
above, avet animus. 


gods and goddesses, with bodies uncovered and bare, the full- 
breasted Ceres nursing Iaccus, 1 as the muse of Lucretius 
sings, the Hellespontian Priapus bearing about among the 
goddesses, virgin and matron, those parts 2 ever prepared for 
encounter. It longs, I say, to see goddesses pregnant, god- 
desses with child, and, as they daily increase in size, faltering 
in their steps, through the irksomeness of the burden they 
bear about with them ; others, after long delay, bringing to 
birth, and seeking the midwife's aid ; others, shrieking as 
they are attacked by keen pangs and grievous pains, tor- 
mented, 3 and, under all these influences, imploring the aid of 
Juno Lucina. Is it not much better to abuse, revile, and 
otherwise insult the gods, than, with pious pretence, un- 
worthily to entertain such monstrous beliefs about them? 

11. And you dare to charge us with offending the gods, 
although, on examination, it is found that the ground of 
offence is most clearly in yourselves, and that it is not occa- 
sioned by the insult which you think 4 [we offer them]. 
For if the gods are, as you say, moved by anger, and burn 
with rage in their minds, why should we not suppose that 
they take it amiss, even in the highest degree, that you 
attribute to them sexes, as dogs and swine have been cre- 
ated, and that, since this is your belief, they are so repre- 
sented, and openly exposed in a disgraceful manner? This, 
then, being the case, you are the cause of all troubles — 
you lead the gods, you rouse them to harass the earth 
with every ill, and every day to devise all kinds of fresh 
misfortunes, that so they may avenge themselves, being 
irritated at suffering so many wrongs and insults from you. 
By your insults and affronts, I say, partly in the vile stories, 
partly in the shameful beliefs which your theologians, your 

1 Cererem ab Iacclw, either as above, or "loved by Iacchus. 5 ' Cf. 
Lncret. iv. 1160 : At tumida et mammosa Ceres est ipsa ab Iacclio. 

2 Sensu obscceno. 

3 The first five edd. read Tiortari— u exhorted," for which LB., followed 
by later edd., received tortari, as above, — a conjecture of Canterus. 

4 So Orelli, reading nee in contumelia quam opinamini stare for the MS. 
et, which is retained by all other edd. ; Oehler, however, inserts alia 
before quam—" and that it is found in an insult other than you think." 

158 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book hi. 

poets, you yourselves too, celebrate in disgraceful ceremonies, 
you will find that the affairs of men have been ruined, and 
that the gods have thrown away the helm, if indeed it is by 
their care that the fortunes of men are guided and arranged. 
For with us, indeed, they have no reason to be angry, whom 
they see and perceive neither to mock, as it is said, nor 
worship them, and to think, 1 to believe much more worthily 
than you with regard to the dignity of their name. 

12. Thus far of sex. Now let us come to the appear- 
ance and shapes by which you believe that the gods above 
have been represented, with which, indeed, you fashion, and 
set them up in their most splendid abodes, your temples. 
And let no one here bring up against us Jewish fables 
and those of the sect of the Sadducees, 2 as though we, too, 
attribute to the Deity forms 3 (for this is supposed to be 
taught in their w T ritin<xs and asserted as if with assurance 
and authority) ; for these stories either do not concern 
us, and have nothing at all in common with us, or if they 
are shared in [by us], as you believe, you must seek out 
teachers of greater wisdom, through whom you may be able 
to learn how best to overcome the dark and recondite sayings 
of those writings. Our opinion on the subject is as follows : 
— that the whole divine nature, since it neither came into 
existence at any time, nor will ever come to an end of life, is 
devoid of bodily features, and does not have anything like 
the forms with which the termination of the several members 
usually completes the union of parts. 4 For whatever is of 
this character, we think mortal and perishable; nor do we 
believe that that can endure for ever which an inevitable end 
shuts in, though the boundaries enclosing it be the remotest. 

13. But it is not enough that you limit the gods by forms : 

1 So later edd., omitting quam, which is read in the MS., both Roman 
edd., Hild., and Oehler, " to think much more . . . than you believe." 

2 It is evident that Arnobius here confuses the sceptical Sadducees 
with their opponents the Pharisees, and the Talmudists. 

3 The MS. reads tribuant et nos unintelligibly, for which LB. and Hild. 
read et os — "as though they attribute form and face;" the other edd., 
as above, tribuamus et nos. 

4 Lit., "the joinings of the members.' 1 


— you even confine them to the human figure, and with even 
less decency enclose them in earthly bodies. What shall we 
say then ? that the gods have a head modelled with perfect 
symmetry, 1 bound fast by sinews to the back and breast, and 
that, to allow the necessary bending of the neck, it is sup- 
ported by combinations of vertebrae, and by an osseous foun- 
dation ? But if we believe this to be true, it follows that they 
have ears also, pierced by crooked windings ; rolling eyeballs, 
overshadowed by the edges of the eyebrows ; a nose, placed 
as a channel, 2 through which waste fluids and a current of 
air might easily pass ; teeth to masticate food, of three kinds, 
and adapted to three services; hands to do their work, moving 
easily by means of joints, fingers, and flexible elbows ; feet 
to support their bodies, regulate their steps, and prompt the 
first motions in walking. But if [the gods bear] these things 
which are seen, it is fitting that they should bear those also 
which the skin conceals under the framework of the ribs, and 
the membranes enclosing the viscera; windpipes, stomachs, 
spleens, lungs, bladders, livers, the long-entwined intestines, 
and the veins of purple blood, joined with the air-passages, 3 
coursiiiff through the whole viscera. 

14. Are, then, the divine bodies free from these defor- 
mities ? and since they do not eat the food of men, are we to 
believe that, like children, they are toothless, and, having no 
internal parts, as if they were inflated bladders, are without 
strength, owing to the hollowness of their swollen bodies ? 
Further, if this is the case, you must see whether the gods 
are all alike, or are marked by a difference in the contour of 
their forms. For if each and all have one and the same 
likeness of shape, there is nothing ridiculous in believing that 
they err, and are deceived in recognising each other. 4 But 

1 Lit., "with smooth roundness." 

2 Lit., " the raised gutter of the nose, easily passed by," etc. 

3 The veins were supposed to be for the most part filled with blood, 
mixed with a little air ; while in the arteries air was supposed to be in 
excess. Cf. Cicero, de Nat. Deor. ii. 55 : " Through the veins blood is 
poured forth to the whole body, and air through the arteries." 

4 Lit., " in the apprehension of mutual knowledge." 


if, on the other hand, they are distinguished by their counte- 
nances, we should, consequently, understand that these differ- 
ences have been implanted for no other reason than that they 
might individually be able to recognise themselves by the 
peculiarities of the different marks. We should therefore 
say that some have big heads, prominent brows, broad brows, 
thick lips ; that others of them have long chins, moles, and 
high noses; that these have dilated nostrils, those are snub- 
nosed ; some chubby from a swelling of their jaws or growth 
of their cheeks, dwarfed, tall, of middle size, lean, sleek, fat ; 
some with crisped and curled hair, others shaven, with bald 
and smooth heads. Now your workshops show and point 
out that our opinions are not false, inasmuch as, when you 
form and fashion gods, you represent some with long hair, 
others smooth and bare, as old, as youths, as boys, swarthy, 
grey-eyed, yellow, half-naked, bare ; or, that cold may not 
annoy them, covered with flowing garments thrown over 

15. Does any man at all possessed of judgment, believe 
that hairs and down grow on the bodies of the gods ? that 
among them age is distinguished ? and that they go about 
clad in dresses and garments of various shapes, and shield 
themselves from heat and cold ? But if any one believes 
that, he must receive this also as true, that [some] gods are 
fullers, some barbers ; the former to cleanse the sacred gar- 
ments, the latter to thin their locks when matted with a thick 
growth of hair. Is not this really degrading, most impious, 
and insulting, to attribute to the gods the features of a fraii 
and perishing animal? to furnish them with those members 
which no modest person w T ould dare to recount, and describe, 
or represent in his own imagination, without shuddering at 
the excessive indecency ? Is this the contempt you entertain, 
— this the proud wisdom with which you spurn us as ignorant, 
and think that all knowledge of religion is yours? You 
mock the mysteries of the Egyptians, because they ingrafted 
the forms of dumb animals upon their divine causes, and 
because they worship these very images with much incense, 
and whatever else is used in such rites : you yourselves adore 


images of men, as though they were powerful gods, and are 
not ashamed to give to these the countenance of an earthly 
creature, to blame others for their mistaken folly, and to be 
detected in a similarly vicious error. 

16. But you will, perhaps, say that the gods have indeed 
other forms, and that you have given the appearance of men 
to them [merely] by way of honour, and for form's sake ; l 
which is much more insulting than to have fallen into any 
error through ignorance. For if you confessed that you had 
ascribed to the divine forms that which you had supposed 
and believed, your error, originating in prejudice, would not 
be so blameable. But now, when you believe one thing 
and fashion another, you both dishonour those to whom you 
ascribe that which you confess does not belong to them, and 
show your impiety in adoring that which you fashion, not that 
which you think really is, and which is in very truth. If 
asses, dogs, pigs 2 had any human wisdom and skill in con- 
trivance, and wished to do us honour also by some kind of 
worship, and to show respect by dedicating statues [to us], with 
what rage would they inflame us, what a tempest of passion 
would they excite, if they determined that our images should 
bear and assume the fashion of their own bodies ? How 
would they, I repeat, fill us with rage, and rouse our passions, 
if the founder of Rome, Romulus, were to be set up with an 
ass's face, the revered Pompilius with that of a dog, if under 
the image of a pig were written Cato's or Marcus Cicero's 
name % So, then, do you think that your stupidity is not 
laughed at by your deities, if they laugh [at all] ? or, since 
you believe that they may be enraged, [do you think] that 
they are not roused, maddened to fury, and that they do not 
wish to be revenged for so great wrongs and insults, and to 
hurl on you the punishments usually dictated by chagrin, 
and devised by bitter hatred ? How much better it had been 

1 The MS. and first four edd. read dotis causa — "for the sake of a 
dowry ; " corrected as above, dicis causa in the later edd. 

2 This argument seems to have been suggested by the saying of Xeno- 
phanes, that the ox or lion, if possessed of man's power, would have repre- 
sented, after the fashion of their own bodies, the gods they would worship. 


162 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book hi. 

to give to them the forms of elephants, panthers, or tigers, 
bulls, and horses ! For what is there beautiful in man, — 
what, I pray you, worthy of admiration, or comely, — unless 
that which, some poet 1 has maintained, he possesses in com- 
mon with the ape ? 

17. But, they say, if you are not satisfied with our opinion, 
do you point out, tell us yourselves, what is the Deity's form. 
If you wish to hear the truth, either the Deity has no form ; 
or if he is embodied in one, we indeed know not what it is. 
Moreover, we think it no disgrace to be ignorant of that 
which we never saw ; nor are we therefore prevented from 
disproving the opinions of others, because on this we have 
no opinion of our own to bring forward. For as, if the 
earth be said to be of glass, silver, iron, or gathered together 
and made from brittle clay, we cannot hesitate to maintain 
that this is untrue, although we do not know of what it is 
made ; so, when the form of God is discussed, we show that 
it is not what you maintain, even if we are [still] less able to 
explain what it is. 

18. What, then, some one will say, does the Deity not 
hear ? does he not speak ? does he not see what is put before 
him ? has he not sight % He may in his own, but not in our 
way. But in so great a matter we cannot know the truth 
at all, or reach it by speculations ; for these are, it is clear, 
in our case, baseless, deceitful, and like vain dreams. For 
if we said that he sees in the same way as ourselves, it 
follows that it should be understood that he has eyelids 
placed as coverings on the pupils of the eyes, that he closes 
them, winks, sees by rays or images, or, as is the case in all 
eyes, can see nothing at all without the presence of other 
light. So we must in like manner say of hearing, and 
form of speech, and utterance of words. If he hears by 
means of ears, these, too, [we must say,] he has, penetrated 
by winding paths, through which the sound may steal, 
bearing the meaning of the discourse ; or if his words are 
poured forth from a mouth, that he has lips and teeth, by 

1 Ennius (Cic. de Nat. Deor. i. 35) : Simia quam similis, turpissima 
bestia, nobis. 


the contact and various movement of which his tongue 
utters sounds distinctly, and forms his voice to words. 

19. If you are willing to hear our conclusions, [then learn 
that] we are so far from attributing bodily shape to the Deity, 
that we fear to ascribe to so great a being even mental graces, 
and the very excellences by which a few have been allowed 
with difficulty to distinguish themselves. For who will say 
that God is brave, firm, good, wise 1 who [will say] that he 
has integrity, is temperate, even that he has knowledge, 
understanding, forethought? that he directs towards fixed 
moral ends the actions on which he determines? These 
things are good in man ; and being opposed to vices, have 
deserved the great reputation which they have gained. But 
who is so foolish, so senseless, as to say that God is great by 
[merely] human excellences ? or that he is above all in the 
greatness of his name, because he is not disgraced by vice ? 
Whatever you say, whatever in unspoken thought you ima- 
gine concerning God, passes and is corrupted into a human 
sense, and does not carry its own meaning, because it is 
spoken in the words which we use, and which are suited 
[only] to human affairs. There is but one thing man can 
be assured of regarding God's nature, to know and perceive 
that nothing can be revealed in human language concerning 

20. This, then, this matter of forms and sexes, is the 
first affront which you, noble advocates in sooth, and pious 
writers, offer to your deities. But what is the next, that you 
represent to us 1 the gods, some as artificers, some physicians, 
others working in wool, as sailors, 2 players on the harp and 
flute, hunters, shepherds, and, as there was nothing more, 
rustics ? And that god, he says, is a musician, and this other 
can divine; for the other gods cannot, 3 and do not know 

1 So the MS., followed by Oehler, reading nobis, for which all other 
edd. give vobis — "to you." 

2 Meursius would read naccas — "fullers," for nautas; but the latter 
term may, properly enough, be applied to the gods who watch over 

3 Or, " for the others are not gods," i.e. cannot be gods, as they do 


how to foretell what will come to pass, owing to their want 
of skill and ignorance of the future. One is instructed in 
obstetric arts, another trained up in the science of medicine. 
Is each, then, powerful in his own department ; and can 
they give no assistance, if their aid is asked, in what belongs 
to another? This one is eloquent in speech, and ready in 
linking words together; for the others are stupid, and can 
say nothing skilfully, if they must speak. 

21. And, I ask, what reason is there, what unavoidable 
necessity, what occasion for the gods knowing and being 
acquainted with these handicrafts as though they were worth- 
less mechanics? For, are songs sung and music played in 
heaven, that the nine sisters may gracefully combine and 
harmonize pauses and rhythms of tones ? Are there on the 
mountains 1 of the stars, forests, woods, groves, that 2 Diana 
may be esteemed very mighty in hunting expeditions ? Are 
the gods ignorant of the immediate future; and do they 
live and pass the time according to the lots assigned them 
by fate, that the inspired son of Latona may explain and 
declare what the morrow or the next hour bears to each? 
Is he himself inspired by another god, and is he urged and 
roused by the power of a greater divinity, so that he may be 
rightly said and esteemed to be divinely inspired? Are the 
gods liable to be seized by diseases ; and is there anything 
by which they may be wounded and hurt, so that, when there 
is occasion, he 3 of Epidaurus may come to their assistance ? 
Do they labour, do they bring forth, that Juno may soothe, 
and Lucina abridge the terrible pangs of childbirth? Do 
they engage in agriculture, or are they concerned with the 
duties of war, that Vulcan, the lord of fire, may form for 

not possess the power of divination. Cf. Lact. i. 11 : Sin aaicm divinus 
non sit, ne deus quiclem sit. 

1 The MS., followed by LB. and Hild., reads sidereis motibus — " in 
the motions of the stars ;" i.e. can these be in the stars, owing to their 
motion? Oehler conjectures molibus — " in the masses of the stars ;" the 
other edd. read montibus, as above. 

2 The MS., both Roman edd., and Oehler read Jiabctur Diana — " is 
Diana esteemed ; " the other edd., ut habeatur, as above. 

s i.e. yEsculapius. 


them swords, or forge their rustic implements? Do they 
need to be covered with garments, that the Tritonian 1 maid 
may, with nice skill, 2 spin, weave cloth for them, and make 3 
them tunics to suit the season, either triple-twilled, or of 
silken fabric ? Do they make accusations and refute them, 
that the descendant 4 of Atlas may carry off the prize for 
eloquence, attained by assiduous practice 1 

22. You err, my opponent says, and are deceived ; for the 
gods are not themselves artificers, but suggest these arts to 
ingenious men, and teach mortals what they should know, 
that their mode of life may be more civilised. But he who 
gives any instruction to the ignorant and unwilling, and 
strives to make him intelligently expert in some kind of 
work, must himself first know that which he sets the other 
to practise. For no one can be capable of teaching a science 
without knowing the rules of that which he teaches, and 
having grasped its method most thoroughly. The gods are, 
then, the first artificers ; whether because they inform the 
minds [of men] with knowledge, as you say yourselves, or 
because, being immortal and unbegotten, they surpass the 
whole race of earth by their length of life. 5 This, then, is 
the question ; there being no occasion for these arts among 
the gods, neither their necessities nor nature requiring in 
them any ingenuity or mechanical skill, why you should say 
that they are skilled, 6 one in one craft, another in another, 
and that individuals are pre-eminently expert 7 in particular 
departments in which they are distinguished by acquaintance 
with the several branches of science ? 

1 i.e. Minerva. 

2 " With nice skill ... for them," curiose iis ; for Avhich the MS. and 
first five edd. read curiosiu$ — " rather skilfully." 

3 The MS. reads unintelligibly et imponere, for which Meursius emended 
componat, as above. 

4 Mercury, grandson of Atlas by Maia. 

5 Lit., " by the long duration of time." 

6 Lit., " skilled in notions " — percept Ionibus ; for which prceceptionibw, 
i.e. " the precepts of the different arts," has been suggested in the mar- 
gin of Ursinus. 

7 Lit., " and have skill (soUertias) in which individuals excel." 

166 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book hi. 

23. But you will, perhaps, say that the gods are not arti- 
ficers, but that they preside over these arts, [and] have their 
oversight ; nay, that under their care all things have been 
placed, which we manage and conduct, and that their pro- 
vidence sees to the happy and fortunate issue of these. Now 
this would certainly appear to be said justly, and with some 
probability, if all we engage in, all we do, or all we attempt 
in human affairs, sped as we wished and purposed. But since 
every day the reverse is the case, and the results of actions 
do not correspond to the purpose of the will, it is trifling to 
say that we have, set as guardians over us, gods invented by 
our superstitious fancy, not grasped with assured certainty. 
Portunus 1 gives to the sailor perfect safety in traversing the 
seas ; but why has the raging sea cast up so many cruelly- 
shattered wrecks ? Consus suggests to our minds courses 
safe and serviceable ; and why does an unexpected change 
perpetually issue in results other than were looked for? 
Pales and Inuus 2 are set as guardians over the flocks and 
herds ; why do they, with hurtful laziness, 3 not take care to 
avert from the herds in. their summer pastures, cruel, infec- 
tious, and destructive diseases ? The harlot Flora, 4 vene- 
rated in lewd sports, sees well to it that the fields blossom ; 
and why are buds and tender plants daily nipt and destroyed 
by most hurtful frost ? Juno presides over childbirth, and 
aids travailing mothers ; and why are a thousand mothers 
every day cut off in murderous throes % Fire is under Vul- 
can's care, and its source is placed under his control ; and why 
does he, very often, suffer temples and parts of cities to fall 
into ashes devoured by names ? The soothsayers receive the 
knowledge of their art from the Pythian god ; and why does 

1 According to Oehler, Portunus (Portumnus or Palsemon — " the god 
who protects harbours") does not occur in the MS., which, he says, reads 
per maria prxstant — " through the seas they afford ;" emended as above 
by Ursinus, prxstat Portunus. Oehler himself proposes permarini — 
" the sea gods afford/' 

2 Pales, i.e. the feeding one ; Inuus, otherwise Faunus and Pan. 

3 Otherwise, " from the absence of rain." 

4 So the margin of Ursinus, reading meretrix ; but in the first four 
edd., LB., and Oberthur, genetrix — " mother," is retained from the MS. 


he so often give and afford answers equivocal, doubtful, 
steeped in darkness and obscurity? ^Esculapius presides 
over the duties and arts of medicine ; and why cannot [men 
in] more kinds of disease and sickness be restored to health 
and soundness of body ? while, on the contrary, they become 
worse under the hands of the physician. Mercury is occu- 
pied with l combats, and presides over boxing and wrestling 
matches ; and why does he not make all invincible who are 
in his charge ? why, when appointed to one office, does he 
enable some to win the victory, while he suffers others to be 
ridiculed for their disgraceful weakness f 

24. No one, says my opponent, makes supplication to 
the tutelar deities, and they therefore withhold their usual 
favours and help. Cannot the gods, then, do good, except 
they receive incense and consecrated offerings? 2 and do they 
quit and renounce their posts, unless they see their altars 
anointed with the blood of cattle ? And yet I thought but 
now that the kindness of the gods was of their own free will, 
and that the unlooked-for gifts of benevolence flowed un- 
sought from them. Is, then, the King of the universe soli- 
cited by any libation or sacrifice to grant to the races of men 
all the comforts of life ? Does the Deity not impart the sun's 
fertilizing warmth, and the season of night, the winds, the rains, 
the fruits, to all alike, — the good and the bad, the unjust and 
the just, 3 the free-born and the slave, the poor and the rich ? 
For this belongs to the true and mighty God, to show kind- 
ness, unasked, to that which is weary and feeble, and always 
encompassed by misery of many kinds. For to grant your 
prayers on the offering of sacrifices, is not to bring help to 
those who ask it, but to sell the riches of their beneficence. 
We men trifle, and are foolish in so great a matter; and, 
forgetting what 4 God is, and the majesty of his name, asso- 

1 So LB., reading cura-t, the MS. omitting the last letter. 

2 Lit, "salted fruits," the grits mixed with salt, strewed on the 

3 Supplied by Ursinus. 

4 So the edd. reading quid, except Hild. and Oehler, who retain the 
MS. qui — " who." 

108 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book in. 

ciate with the tutelar deities whatever meanness or baseness 
our morbid credulity can invent. 

25. Unxia, my opponent says, presides over the anointing 
[of door-posts] ; Cinxia over the loosening of the zone ; the 
most venerable Victa 1 and Potua attend to eating and 
drinking. O rare and admirable interpretation of the divine 
powers ! would gods not have names if brides did not be- 
smear their husbands' door-posts with greasy ointment ; 
were it not that husbands, when now eagerly drawing near, 
unbind the maiden-girdle ; if men did not eat and drink ? 
Moreover, not satisfied to have subjected and involved the 
gods in cares so unseemly, you also ascribe to them disposi- 
tions fierce, cruel, savage, ever rejoicing in the ills and de- 
struction of mankind. 

26. We shall not here mention Laverna, goddess of thieves, 
the Bellonte, Discordiae, Furiie ; and we pass by in utter 
silence the unpropitious deities whom you have set up. W r e 
shall bring forward Mars himself, and the fair mother of 
the Desires ; to one of whom you commit wars, to the other 
love and passionate desire. My opponent says that Mars has 
power over wars ; whether to quell those which are raging, 
or to revive them when interrupted, and kindle them in time 
of peace ? For if he calms the madness of war, why do wars 
rage every day ? but if he is their author, we shall then say 
that the god, to satisfy his own inclination, involves the 
whole world in strife ; sows the seeds of discord and variance 
between far-distant peoples ; gathers so many thousand men 
from different quarters, and speedily heaps up the field with 
dead bodies; makes the streams flow with blood, sweeps away 
the most firmly-founded empires, lays cities in the dust, robs 
the free of their liberty, and makes them slaves ; rejoices in 
civil strife, in the bloody death of brothers who die in con- 
flict, and, in fine, in the dire, murderous contest of children 
with their fathers. 

27. Now we may apply this very argument to Venus in 
exactly the same way. For if, as you maintain and believe, 
she fills men's minds with lustful thoughts, it must be held 

1 The MS. reads Vita. 


in consequence that any disgrace and misdeed arising from 
such madness should be ascribed to the instigation of Venus. 
Is it, then, under compulsion of the goddess that even the 
noble too often betray their own reputation into the hands 
of worthless harlots; that the firm bonds of marriage are 
broken ; that near relations burn with incestuous lust ; that 
mothers have their passions madly kindled towards their 
children ; that fathers turn to themselves their daughters' 
desires ; that old men, bringing shame upon their grey hairs, 
sigh with the ardour of youth for the gratification of filthy 
desires ; that wise and brave 1 men, losing in effeminacy the 
strength of their manhood, disregard the biddings of con- 
stancy ; that the noose is twisted about their necks ; that 
blazing pyres are ascended; 2 and that in different places 
men, leaping voluntarily, cast themselves headlong over very 
high and huge precipices ? 3 

28. Can any man, who has accepted the first principles 
even of reason, be found to mar or dishonour the unchanging 
nature of Deity with morals so vile ? to credit the gods with 
natures such as human kindness has often charmed away 
and moderated in the beasts of the field ? How, 4 I ask, can 
it be said that the gods are far removed from any feeling of 
passion % that they are gentle, lovers of peace, mild 1 that in 
the completeness of their excellence they reach 5 the height 
of perfection, and the highest wisdom also ? or, why should 
we pray them to avert from us misfortunes and calamities, 
if w T e find that they are themselves the authors of all the ills 
by which we are daily harassed ? Call us impious as much 
as you please, contemners of religion, or atheists, you will 
never make us believe in gods of love and war, that there are 
gods to sow strife, and to disturb the mind by the stings of 

1 i.e. those who subdue their own spirits. " Constancy" is the svttcc- 
Qnci of the Stoics. 

2 Referring to Dido. 

3 As despairing lovers are said to have sought relief in death, by leap- 
ing from the Leucadian rock into the sea. 

4 Lit., " where, I ask, is the [assertion] that," etc. 
fi Lit., " hold." 

170 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book hi. 

the furies. For either they are gods in very truth, and do 
not do what you have related ; or if 1 they do the things 
which you say, they are doubtless no gods [at all]. 

29. We might, however, even yet be able to receive from 
you these thoughts, most full of wicked falsehoods, if it were 
not that you yourselves, in bringing forward many things 
about the gods so inconsistent and mutually destructive, 
compel us to withhold our minds from assenting. For when 
you strive individually to excel each other in reputation for 
more recondite knowledge, you both overthrow the very 
gods in whom you believe, and replace them by others who 
have clearly no existence ; and different men give different 
opinions on the same subjects, 2 and you write that those 
whom general consent has ever received as single persons 
are infinite in number. Let us, too, begin duly, then, with 
father Janus, whom certain of you have declared to be the 
world, others the year, some the sun. But if we are to be- 
lieve that this is true, it follows as a consequence, that it 
should be understood that there never was any Janus, who, 
they say, being sprung from Coelus and Hecate, reigned 
first in Italy, founded the town Janiculum, was the father of 
Fons, 3 the son-in-law of Vulturnus, the husband of Juturna; 
and thus you erase the name of the god to whom in all 
prayers you give the first place, and whom you believe to 
procure for you a hearing from the gods. But, again, if 
Janus be the year, neither thus can he be a god. For who 
does not know that the year is a fixed space 4 of time, and 
that there is nothing divine in that which is formed 5 by the 
duration of months and lapse of days ? Now this very [argu- 
ment] may, in like manner, be applied to Saturn. For if 
time is meant under this title, as the expounders of Grecian 
ideas think, so that that is regarded as Kronos, 6 which is 
chronos, 7 there is no such deity as Saturn. For who is so 

1 In the MS. these words, ant si, are wanting. 

2 Stewechius and Orelli would omit rebus, and interpret " about the 
same gods." Instead of de — " about," the MS. has deos. 

3 The MS. reads fond, corrected by Meursius Fontis, as above. 

4 Lit., "circuit." 5 Lit., " finished." G i.e. the god. 7 i.e. time. 


senseless as to say that time is a god, when it is but a certain 
space measured off 1 in the unending succession of eternity ! 
And thus will be removed from the rank of the immortals 
that deity too, whom the men of old declared, and handed 
down to their posterity, to be born of father Coelus, the pro- 
genitor of the dii magni, the planter of the vine, the bearer 
of the pruning-knife. 2 

30. But what shall we say of Jove himself, whom the 
wise have repeatedly asserted to be the sun, driving a 
winged chariot, followed by a crowd of deities; 3 some, the 
ether, blazing with mighty flames, and wasting fire which 
cannot be extinguished ? Now if this is clear and certain, 
there is, then, according to you, no Jupiter at all ; who, 
born of Saturn his father and Ops his mother, is reported 
to have been concealed in the Cretan territory, that he might 
escape his father's rage. But now, does not a similar mode 
of thought remove Juno from the list of gods ? For if she 
is the air, as you have been wont to jest and say, repeating 
in reversed order the [syllables] of the Greek name, 4 there 
will be found no sister and spouse of almighty Jupiter, no 
Fluonia, 5 no Pomona, no Ossipagina, no Februtis, Popu- 
lonia, Cinxia, Caprotina ; and thus the invention of that 
name, spread abroad with a frequent but vain 6 belief, will 
be found to be wholly 7 useless. 

31. Aristotle, a man of most powerful intellect, and dis- 
tinguished for learning, as Granius tells, shows by plausible 
arguments that Minerva is the moon, and proves it by the 
authority of learned men. Others have said that this very 
goddess is the depth of ether, and utmost height ; some 
[have maintained] that she is memory, whence her name 
even, Minerva, has arisen, as if she were some goddess of 

1 Lit., " the measuring of a certain space included in," etc. 

2 Cf. vi. 12. 3 Cf> Plat0j PhxdK s t. p . 246. 

4 Lit., " the reversed order of the Greek name being repeated," i.e. 
instead of y-pcc, &-%p. 

5 The MS. gives Fluvionia. 

6 Lit., " with the frequency (or fame) of vain," etc. 

7 Lit., " very." 

172 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book in. 

memory. But if this is credited, it follows that there is no 
daughter of Mens, no daughter of Victory, no discoverer of 
the Olive, born from the head of Jupiter, no [goddess] skilled 
in the knowledge of the arts, and in different branches of 
learning. Neptune, they say, has received his name and 
title because he covers the earth with water. If, then, by 
the use of this name is meant the outspread water, there is 
no god Neptune at all ; and thus is put away, and removed 
[from us], the full brother of Pluto and Jupiter, armed with 
the iron trident, lord of the fish, great and small, king of the 
depths of the sea, and shaker of the trembling earth. 1 

32. Mercury, also, has been named as though he were a 
kind of go-between ; and because conversation passes be- 
tween two speakers, and is exchanged by them, that which 
is expressed by this name has been produced. 2 If this, then, 
is the case, Mercury is not the name of a god, but of speech 
and words exchanged [by two persons] ; and in this way is 
blotted out and annihilated the noted Cyllenian bearer of the 
caduceus, born on the cold mountain top, 3 contriver of w r ords 
and names, [the god] who presides over markets, and over 
the exchange of goods and commercial intercourse. Some 
of you have said that the earth is the Great Mother, 4 because 
it provides all things living with food ; others declare that 
the same [earth] is Ceres, because it brings forth crops of 
useful fruits ; 5 while some maintain that it is Vesta, because 
it alone in the universe is at rest, its other members being, 
by their constitution, ever in motion. Now if this is pro- 
pounded and maintained on sure grounds, in like manner, on 
your interpretation, three deities have no existence : neither 
Ceres nor Vesta are to be reckoned in the number 6 of the 
gods ; nor, in fine, can the mother of the gods herself, whom 
Nigidius thinks to have been married to Saturn, be rightly 

1 So Meursius emended the MS. sail — "sea." 

2 Lit., " the quality of this name has been adjusted." 

3 So Orelli, reading monte vertice; the last word, according to Ochler, 
not being found in the MS. 

4 i.e. Cybele. Cf. Lucr. ii. 991 Bqry 5 Lit., "seeds." 
6 Fasti— "list," " register." 


declared a goddess, if indeed these are all names of the one 
earth, and it alone is signified by these titles. 

33. We here leave Vulcan unnoticed, to avoid prolixity ; 
whom you all declare to be fire, with one consenting voice. 
[We pass by] Venus, named because [love] assails all, and 
Proserpina, named because plants steal gradually forth into 
the light, — where, again, you do away with three deities ; if 
indeed the first is the name of an element, and does not 
signify a living power; the second, of a desire common to 
all living creatures; while the third refers to seeds rising 
above ground, and the upward movements 1 of growing 
crops. What ! when you maintain that Bacchus, Apollo, 
the Sun, are one deity, [seemingly] increased in number 
by the use of three names, is not the number of the gods 
lessened, and their vaunted reputation overthrown, by your 
opinions? For if it is true that the sun is also Bacchus 
and Apollo, there can consequently be in the universe no 
Apollo or Bacchus; and thus, by yourselves, the son of 
Semele [and] the Pythian god are blotted out [and] set 
aside, — one the giver of drunken merriment, the other the 
destroyer of Sminthian mice. 

34. Some of your learned men 2 — men, too, who do not 
chatter [merely] because their humour leads them — maintain 
that Diana, Ceres, Luna, are but one deity in triple union ; 3 
and that there are not three distinct persons, as there are 
three different names; that in all these Luna is invoked, 
and that the others are a series of surnames added to her 
name. But if this is sure, if this is certain, and the facts 
of the case show it to be so, again is Ceres but an empty 
name, and Diana: and thus the discussion is brought to 
this issue, that you lead and advise us to believe that she 
whom you maintain to be the discoverer of the earth's fruits 
has no existence, and Apollo is robbed of his sister, whom 

1 Lit., "motions." 

2 Cf. Servius ad Virg. Georg. i. 7 : "The Stoics say that Luna, Diana, 
Ceres, Juno, and Proserpina are one ; following whom, Virgil invoked 
Liber and Ceres for Sol and Luna." 

3 Triviali—" common," " vulgar," seems to be here used for triplici. 



once the horned hunter 1 gazed upon as she washed her limbs 
from [sweat and] impurity in a pool, and paid the penalty of 
his curiosity. 

35. Men worthy to be remembered in the study of 
philosophy, who have been raised by your praises to its 
highest place, declare, with commendable earnestness, as 
their conclusion, that the whole mass of the world, by whose 
folds we all are encompassed, covered, and upheld, is one 
animal 2 possessed of wisdom and reason ; yet if this is a 
true, sure, and certain opinion, 3 they also will forthwith 
cease to be gods whom you set up a little ago in its parts 
without change of name. 4 For as one man cannot, while 
his body remains entire, be divided into many men ; nor can 
many men, while they continue to be distinct and separate 
from each other, 5 be fused into one sentient individual : so, 
if the world is a single animal, and moves from the impulse 
of one mind, neither can it be dispersed in several deities ; 
nor, if the gods are parts of it, can they be brought together 
and changed into one living creature, with unity of feeling 
throughout all its parts. The moon, the sun, the earth, the 
ether, the stars, are members and parts of the world ; but 
if they are parts and members, they are certainly not them- 
selves 6 living creatures; for in no thing can parts be the 
very thing which the whole is, or think and feel for them- 
selves, for this cannot be effected by their own actions, 
without the whole creature's joining in ; and this being 
established and settled, the whole matter comes back to 
this, that neither Sol, nor Luna, nor -ZEther, Tellus, and the 
rest, are gods. For they are parts of the world, not the 
proper names of deities ; and thus it is brought about that, 

1 Actseon. 2 Plato, Tim&us, st. p. 30. 

8 Lit., "of which things, however, if the opinion," etc. 

4 i.e. deifying parts of the universe, and giving them, as deities, the 
same names as before. 

5 Lit., "the difference of their disjunction being preserved" — multi 
disjunctionis differentia conscrvata, suggested in the margin of Ursinus 
for the MS. multitudinis junctionis d. c, retained in the first five edd. 

6 Lit., " of their own name." 


by your disturbing and confusing all divine things, the world 
is set up as the sole god in the universe, while all the rest 
are cast aside, and that [as] having been set up vainly, use- 
lessly, and without any reality. 

36. If we sought to subvert the belief in your gods in so 
many ways, by so many arguments, no one would doubt 
that, mad with rage and fury, you would demand for us 
the stake, the beasts, and swords, with the other kinds of 
torture by which you usually appease your thirst in its in- 
tense craving for our blood. But while you yourselves put 
away almost the whole race of deities with a pretence of 
cleverness and wisdom, you do not hesitate to assert that, 
because of us, men suffer ill at the hands of the gods ;* 
although, indeed, if it is true that they anywhere exist, and 
burn with anger and 2 rage, there can be no better reason for 
their showing anger against you, 3 than that you deny their 
existence, and [say] that they are not [found] in any part of 
the universe. 

37. "We are told by Mnaseas that the Muses are the 
daughters of Tellus and Ccelus ; others declare [that they 
are] Jove's by his wife Memory, or Mens ; some relate that 
they were virgins, others that they were matrons. For now 
we wish to touch briefly on the points where you are shown, 
from the difference of your opinions, to make different state- 
ments about the same thing. Ephorus, then, says that they 
are three 4 in number; Mnaseas, whom we mentioned, [that 
they are] four; 5 Myrtilus 6 brings forward seven; Crates 

1 Lit., "for the sake of our name, men's affairs are made harass- 

2 Lit., " with flames of," etc. 

3 The MS., according to Crusius, reads nos — " us." 

4 Three was the most ancient number ; and the names preserved by 
Pausanias, are MfAim, 'Ao/3sj, MjHf/of. 

5 Cicero (de Nat. Deor. iii. 21, a passage where there is some doubt 
as to the reading) enumerates as the four muses, Thelxiope, Acede, 
Arche, Melete. 

6 The ms. reads Murtylus. Seven are said to have been mentioned 
by Epicharmus,— Neilous, Tritone, Asopous, Heptapolis, Achelo'is, Tipo- 
plous, and Rhodia. 

176 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book hi. 

asserts that there are eight ; finally Hesiod, enriching heaven 
and the stars with gods, comes forward with nine names. 1 

If we are not mistaken, such want of agreement marks 
those who are wholly ignorant of the truth, and does not 
spring from the real state of the case. For if their number 
were clearly known, the voice of all would be the same, and 
the agreement of all would tend to and find issue in the same 
conclusion. 2 

38. How, then, can you give to religion its whole power, 
when you fall into error about the gods themselves ? or 
summon us to their solemn worship, while you give us no 
definite information how to conceive of the deities them- 
selves ? For, to take no notice of the other 3 authors, either 
the first 4 makes away with and destroys six divine Muses, if 
they are certainly nine; or the last 5 adds six who have no 
existence to the three who alone really are ; so that it cannot 
be known or understood what should be added, what taken 
away ; and in the performance of religious rites we are in 
danger 6 of either worshipping that which does not exist, or 
passing that by which, it may be, does exist. Piso believes 
that the Novensiles are nine gods, set up among the Sabines 
at Trebia. 7 Granius thinks that they are the Muses, agree- 
ing with ^Elius ; Varro teaches that they are nine, 8 because, 
in doing anything, [that number] is always reputed most 
powerful and greatest; Cornificius, 9 that they watch over 
the renewing of things, 10 because, by their care, all things are 
afresh renewed in strength, and endure ; Manilius, that they 

1 The nine are Clio, Euterpe, Thalia, Melpomene, Terpsichore, Erato, 
Polymnia, Ourania, and Calliope (Theog. 77-70). 

2 Lit., " into the end of the same opinion." 

3 Lit., "in the middle/' "intermediate." 

4 i.e. Ephorus. 6 i.e. Hesiod. 

G Lit., " the undertaking of religion itself is brought into the danger," 

7 An Umbrian village. 

8 Lit., " that the number is nine." 

9 A grammarian who lived in the time of Augustus, not to be con- 
founded with Cicero's correspondent. 

10 Novitatum. 


are the nine gods to whom alone Jupiter gave power to wield 
his thunder. 1 Cincius declares them to be deities brought 
from abroad, named from their very newness, because the 
Romans were in the habit of sometimes individually intro- 
ducing into their families the rites 2 of conquered cities, while 
some they publicly consecrated ; and lest, from their great 
number, or in ignorance, any god should be passed by, all 
alike were briefly and compendiously invoked under one 
name — Novensiles. 

39. There are some, besides, who assert that those who 
from being men became gods, are denoted by this name, — as 
Hercules, Romulus, -ZEsculapius, Liber, JEneas. These are 
all, as is clear, different opinions ; and it cannot be, in the 
nature of things, that those who differ in opinion can be 
regarded as teachers of one truth. For if Piso's opinion is 
true, -ZElius and Granius say what is false ; if what they say 
is certain, Varro, with all his skill, 3 is mistaken, who substi- 
tutes things most frivolous and vain for those which really 
exist. If they are named Novensiles because their number 
is nine, 4 Cornificius is shown to stumble, who, giving them 
might and power not their own, makes them the divine over- 
seers of renovation. 5 But if Cornificius is rip*ht in his belief, 
Cincius is found [to be] not wise, who connects with the 
power of the dii Novensiles the gods of conquered cities. 
But if they are those whom Cincius asserts [them to be], 
Manilius will be found to speak falsely, who comprehends 
those who wield another's thunder under this name. But 
if that which Manilius holds is true and certain, they are 
utterly mistaken who suppose that those raised to divine 
honours, and deified mortals, are [thus] named because of 

1 The Etruscans held (Pliny, H. N. ii. 52) that nine gods could 
thunder, the bolts being of different kinds : the Romans so far main- 
tained this distinction as to regard thunder during the day as sent by 
Jupiter, at night by Summanus. 

2 So LB., reading relig- for the MS. reg-iones. 

3 Lit., " the very skilful." 

4 Lit., " if the number nine bring on the name of," etc 

5 Lit., " gives another's might and power to gods presiding." 

6 Lit., " the title of this name." 


178 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book hi. 

the novelty of their rank. But if the Novensiles are those 
who have deserved to be raised to the stars after passing 
through the life of men, 1 there are no dii Novensiles at all. 
For as slaves, soldiers, masters, are not names of persons 
comprehended under them, 2 but of offices, ranks, and duties, 
so, when we say that Novensiles is the name 3 of gods who 
by their virtues have become 4 gods from being men, it is 
clear and evident that no individual persons are marked out 
particularly, but that newness itself is named by the title 

40. Nigidius taught that the dii Penates were Neptune 
and Apollo, who once, on fixed terms, girt Ilium 5 with walls. 
He himself again, in his sixteenth book, following Etruscan 
teaching, shows that there are four kinds of Penates; and 
that one of these pertains to Jupiter, another to Neptune, 
the third to the shades below, the fourth to mortal men, 
making some unintelligible assertion. Caesius himself, also, 
following this [teaching], thinks that they are Fortune, and 
Ceres, the genius Jovialis, 6 and Pales, but not the female 
[deity] commonly received, 7 but some male attendant and 
steward of Jupiter. Varro thinks that they are the gods of 
whom we speak who are within, and in the inmost recesses of 
heaven, and that neither their number nor names are known. 
The Etruscans say that these are the Consentes and Com- 
plices* and name them because they rise and fall together, 

1 Lit., " after they have finished the mortality of life," i.e. either as 
above, or " having endured its perishableness." 

2 Lit., " lying under." 

3 So most edd., following Gelenius, who reads esse nomen for the MS. 
si omnes istud. 

4 Lit., " who have deserved to," etc. 

5 The MS. reads immortalium, corrected in the edd. urbem Ilium. 

6 Supposed to be either the genius attending Jupiter ; the family god 
as sent by him ; or the chief among the genii, sometimes mentioned 
simply as Genius. 

7 Lit., " whom the commonalty receives." 

8 Consentes (those who are together, or agree together, i.e. coun- 
cillors) and Complices (confederate, or agreeing) are said by some to be 
the twelve gods who composed the great council of heaven; and, in 


six of them being male, and as many female, with unknown 
names and pitiless dispositions, 1 but they are considered the 
counsellors and princes of Jove supreme. There were some, 
too, who said that Jupiter, Juno, and Minerva were the dii 
Penates, without whom we cannot live and be wise, and by 
whom we are ruled within in reason, passion, and thought. 
As you see, even here, too, nothing is said harmoniously, 
nothing is settled with the consent of all, nor is there any- 
thing reliable on which the mind can take its stand, drawing 
by conjecture very near to the truth. For their opinions are 
so doubtful, and one supposition so discredited 2 by another, 
that there is either no truth in them all, or if it is uttered 
by any, it is not recognised amid so many different state- 

41. We can, if it is thought proper, speak briefly of the 
Lares also, whom the mass think to be the gods of streets 
and ways, because the Greeks name streets laurce. In dif- 
ferent parts of his writings, Nigidius [speaks of them] now 
as the guardians of houses and dwellings ; now as the Curetes, 
who are said to have once concealed, by the clashing of cym- 
bals, 3 the infantile cries of Jupiter ; now the five Digiti 
Samothracii, who, the Greeks tell [us], were named Idaei 
Dactyli. Varro, with like hesitation, says at one time that 

accordance with this, the words una oriantur et occidant una might be 
translated "rise and sit down together," i.e. at the council table. But 
then, the names and number of these are known ; while Arnobius says, 
immediately after, that the names of the dii Consentes are not known, 
and has already quoted Varro, to the effect that neither names nor 
number are known. Schelling (iiber die Gottli. v. SamotJir., quoted by 
Orelli) adopts the reading (see following note), "of whom very little 
mention is made," i.e. in prayers or rites, because they are merely Jove's 
councillors, and exercise no power over men, and identifies them with 
the Samothracian Cabiri — Kc&fiupoi and Consentes being merely Greek 
and Latin renderings of the name. 

1 So the MS. and all edd. reading miserationis parcissimze, except 
Gelenius, who reads nationis larbarissimse — " of a most barbarous 
nation ;" while Ursinus suggested memorationis pare. — " of whom verr 
little mention is made," — the reading approved by Schelling. 

2 Lit., " shaken to its foundations." 

3 Jlribus. Cf. Lucretius, ii. 633-6. 

180 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book hi. 

they are the Manes, 1 and therefore the mother of the Lares 
was named Mania ; at another time, again, he maintains 
that they are gods of the air, and are termed heroes ; at 
another, following the opinion of the ancients, he says that 
the Lares are ghosts, as it were a kind of tutelary demon, 
spirits of dead 2 men. 

42. It is a vast and endless task to examine each kind 
separately, and make it evident even from your religious 
books that you neither hold nor believe that there is any gcd 
concerning whom you have not 3 brought forward doubtful 
and inconsistent statements, expressing a thousand different 
beliefs. But, to be brief, and avoid prolixity, 4 it is enough 
to have said what has been said ; it is, further, too trouble- 
some to gather together many things into one mass, since 
it is made manifest and evident in different ways that you 
waver, and say nothing with certainty of these things which 
you assert. But you will perhaps say, Even if we have no 
personal knowledge of the Lares, Novensiles, Penates, still 
the very agreement of our authors proves their existence, 
and that such a race 5 takes rank among the celestial gods. 
And how can it be known whether there is any god, if what 
he is shall be wholly unknown? or how can it avail even 
to ask for benefits, if it is not settled and determined who 
should be invoked at each inquiry?' For every one who 
seeks to obtain an answer from any deity, should of neces- 
sity know to whom he makes supplication, on whom he 
calls, from whom he asks help for the affairs and occasions 
of human life ; especially as you yourselves declare that all 
the gods do not have all power, and 8 that the wrath and 
anger of each are appeased by different rites. 

1 The ms. reads manas, corrected as above by all edd. except Hild., 
who reads Manias. 

2 The MS. reads effunctorum; LB. et funct., from the correction of 
Stewechius ; Gelenius, with most of the other edd., clef. 

3 The MS. and first ed. omit non. 4 Lit,, "because of aversion." 
5 Lit., " the form of their race." 6 i.e. ignorahitur et nescietur. 

7 The MS. reads consolationcm — " for each consolation," i.e. to comfort 
in every distress. 

8 The ms. omits et. 


43. For if this [deity] l requires a black, that 2 a white 
skin ; [if] sacrifice must be made to this one with veiled, to 
that with uncovered head ; 3 this one is consulted about mar- 
riages, 4 the other relieves distresses, — may it not be of some 
importance whether the one or the other is Novensilis, since 
ignorance of the facts and confusion of persons displeases 
the gods, and leads necessarily to the contraction of guilt ? 
For suppose that I myself, to avoid some inconvenience and 
peril, make supplication to any one of these deities, saying, 
Be present, be near, divine Penates, thou Apollo, and thou, 

Neptune, and in your divine clemency turn away all 
these evils, by which I am annoyed, 5 troubled, and tor- 
mented : will there be any hope that I shall receive help 
from them, if Ceres, Pales, Fortune, or the genius Jovialis, G 
not Neptune and Apollo, shall be the dii Penates f Or if 

1 invoked the Curetes instead of the Lares, whom some of 
your writers maintain to be the Digiti Samothracii, how 
shall I enjoy their help and favour, when I have not given 
them their own names, and have given to the others names 
not their own ? Thus does our interest demand that we 
should rightly know the gods, and not hesitate or doubt 
about the power, the name of each ; lest, 7 if they be invoked 
with rites and titles not their own, they have at once their 
ears stopped [against our prayers], and hold us involved in 
guilt which may not be forgiven. 

44. Wherefore, if you are assured that in the lofty palaces 
of heaven there dwells, there is, that multitude of deities 

1 The dii inferi. 2 The dii superi. 

3 Saturn and Hercules were so worshipped. 4 Apollo. 

5 The MS., first five edd., and Oehler read terreor — " terrified ;" the 
others tor., as above, from the conjecture of Gifanius. 

6 Cf. ch. 40, note 6. It may further be observed that the Etruscans 
held that the superior and inferior gods and men were linked together 
by a kind of intermediate beings, through whom the gods took cog- 
nizance of human affairs, without themselves descending to earth. 
These were divided into four classes, assigned to Tina (Jupiter), Nep- 
tune, the gods of the nether world, and men respectively. 

7 So LB., Hild., and Oehler, reading nomine ne ; all others ut, the MS. 
having no conjunction. 


whom you specify, you should make your stand on one 
proposition, 1 and not, divided by different and inconsistent 
opinions, destroy belief in the very things which you seek to 
establish. If there is a Janus, let Janus be ; if a Bacchus, 
let Bacchus be ; if a Summanus, 2 let Summanus be : for 
this is to confide, this to hold, to be settled in the knowledge 
of something ascertained, not to say after the manner of the 
blind and erring, The Novensiles are the Muses, in truth 
they are the Trebian gods, nay, their number is nine, or 
rather, they are the protectors of cities which have been over- 
thrown ; and bring so important matters into this danger, 
that while you remove some, and put others in their place, 
it may well be doubted of them all if they anywhere exist. 

1 Lit., " it is fitting that you stand in the limits of," etc. 

2 i.e. Sumnius Manium, Pluto. 



ArnobiuS now attacks the heathen mythology, pointing out that such 
deities as Piety, Concord, Safety, and the like, could only be mere 
abstractions (1, 2) ; while, as to many others, it would be difficult to 
suppose — especially when facts are compared with theories — that they 
were seriously spoken of as deities, e.g. Luperca, Prsestana, Pantica (3), 
and Pellonia (4) ; the sinister deities (5) ; Lateranus, a god degraded 
to the kitchen (6) ; and others to whom were assigned obscene and 
trifling offices (7) ; and asking whether the existence of these deities 
depended on the things for which they cared, or the performance of 
the offices over which they were set, and how, if they were first in 
the order of existence, they could be named from things which did 
not then exist, and how their names were known (8). Common-sense 
will not allow us to believe in gods of Gain, Lust, Money, and the rest 
(9) ; and besides, we could not stop here, for if there were gods to pre- 
side over bones, honey, thresholds, we should find it impossible to deny 
that everywhere and for everything there are special gods (10). What 
proof, it is asked, do the gods give of their existence ? do they appear 
when invoked? do they give true oracles (11)? how were they made 
known to men, and how could it be certain that some one did not take 
the place of all those supposed to be present at different rites (12)? 
Arnobius next goes on to point out that several deities were spoken of 
under one name, while, on the contrary, several names were sometimes 
applied to one deity (13) ; e.g. there were three Jupiters, five Suns and 
Mercuries, five Minervas (14), four Vulcans, three Dianas and ^Esculapii, 
six called Hercules, and four called Venus, and others, in like manner, 
from which would arise much confusion (15) ; for if Minerva were in- 
voked, the five might be supposed to appear, each claiming the honour 
of deity as her own, in which case the position of the worshipper would 
be one of danger and perplexity (16). The others might be similarly 
referred to, and this alone would make it impossible to believe in these 
deities (17). And if it should be said that these writings are false, it 
might be answered that it is only of such published statements that 
notice could be taken; and that, if they were discredited, this fact 
should be made evident ; and, finally, that from them all the religious 
ideas of the heathen were drawn (18). In saying that a god was 


184 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

sprung from such a father and mother, the thought might have sug- 
gested itself, that in this there was something human, something not 
befitting deity (19) ; but, so far from this, they had added everything 
degrading and horrible (20). Jupiter had such an origin, they said, 
and the Thunderer was once a helpless infant tended by his nurse (21) ; 
and — which was even more degrading and unseemly — in turn he, too, 
was subject to lust and passion, even descending to intercourse with 
mortals (22, 23). Here, Arnobius says, would be found the cause of all 
the miseries of which they complained, and these, therefore, were to be 
laid to the account, not of the Christians, but of the heathen, for it was 
they who devised such hideous, absurd, and blasphemous tales about 
the deities, which are either utterly false, or conclusively disprove the 
existence of such gods (24-28). Here it might have been shown that 
all the gods were originally men, by referring to various historians (29) ; 
but this is not done, because the purpose of Arnobius was merely to 
show that it was the heathen, not the Christians, who did the gods dis- 
honour. True worship is not ritual observance, but right thoughts ; and 
therefore the resentment of the gods would be excited rather by the 
infamous tales of the heathen, than by the neglect of the Christians 
(30, 31) ; and whoever might have invented them, the great body of 
the people were to blame, in that they allowed it to be done, and even 
took pleasure in reading or hearing such stories, although they had 
secured not merely the great, but even private persons from libels and 
calumnies by the strictest laws (32-34). But not merely did they 
suffer things to be written with impunity which dishonoured the gods, 
similar plays were also acted on the stage (35) ; and in these the gods 
were even made a laughing-stock, to the great delight of crowded 
audiences (35, 36). And yet, though they were so open and unblush- 
ing in the insults which they offered the gods, they did not hesitate to 
accuse the Christians of impiety, who were not guilty in this respect at 
all (37). If, therefore, the gods are angry, it is not because of the 
Christians, but because of their own worshippers (3S). 

E would ask you, and you above all, O Romans, 
lords and princes of the world, whether you 
think that Piety, Concord, Safety, Honour, 
Virtue, Happiness, and other such names, to 

which we see you rear 1 altars and splendid temples, have 
divine power, and live in heaven? 2 or, as is usual, have you 
classed them witli the deities merely for form's sake, because 
we desire and wish these blessings to fall to our lot? For 

1 Lit., " see altars built." 

2 Lit., " in the regions of heaven." 


if, while you think them empty names without any sub- 
stance, you yet deify them with divine honours/ you will have 
to consider whether that is a childish frolic, or tends to bring 
your deities into contempt, 2 when you make equal, and add 
to their number vain and feigned names. But if you have 
loaded them with temples and couches, holding with more 
assurance that these, too, are deities, we pray you to teach 
[us in] our ignorance, by what course, in what way, Victory, 
Peace, Equity, and the others mentioned among the gods, 
can be understood to be gods, to belong to the assembly of 
the immortals ? 

2. For we (but, perhaps, you [would] rob and deprive 
us of common-sense) feel and perceive that none of these 
has divine power, or possesses a form of its own; 3 but that, 
[on the contrary,] they are the excellence of manhood, 4 the 
safety of the safe, the honour of the respected, the victory 
of the conqueror, the harmony of the allied, the piety of the 
pious, the recollection of the observant, the good fortune, 
indeed, of him who lives happily and without exciting any 
ill-feeling. Now it is easy to perceive that, in speaking 
thus, we speak most reasonably when we observe 5 the con- 
trary qualities opposed [to them], misfortune, discord, forget- 
f ulness, injustice, impiety, baseness of spirit, and unfortunate 6 
weakness of body. For as these things happen accidentally, 
and 7 depend on human acts [and] chance moods, so their 
contraries, named 8 after more agreeable qualities, must be 

1 The MS. reads tarn (corrected by the first four edd. tameii) in 
regionibas — "in the divine seats;" corrected, religionibus, as above, by 

2 Lit., " to the deluding of your deities." 

3 Lit., "is contained in a form of its own kind." 

4 i.e. manliness. 

5 Lit., "which it is easy to perceive to be said by us with the greatest 
truth from," etc., — so most edd. reading nobis; but the MS., according 
to Crusius, gives vobis— u you," as in Orelli and Oberthiir. 

6 Lit., "less auspicious." 

7 The MS., first four edd., and Elmenhorst, read qux— u which ; " the 
rest, as above, que. 

8 Lit., "what is opposed to them named," nominatum ; a correction 
by Oehler for the MS. nominatur—" is named." 

186 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

found in others; and from these, originating in this wise, 
have arisen those invented names. 

3. With regard, indeed, to your bringing forward to us 
other bands of unknown 1 gods, we cannot determine whether 
you do that seriously, and from a belief in its certainty ; or, 
[merely] playing with empty fictions, abandon yourselves to 
an unbridled imagination. The goddess Luperca, you tell 
us on the authority of Varro, was named because the fierce 
wolf spared the exposed children. Was that goddess, then, 
disclosed, not by her own power, [but] by the course of 
events ? and was it [only] after the wild beast restrained its 
cruel teeth, that she both began to be herself and was marked 
by 2 her name? or if she was already a goddess long before 
the birth of Romulus and his brother, show us what was her 
name and title. Prasstana was named, according to you, 
because, in throwing the javelin, Quirinus excelled all in 
strength; 3 and the goddess Panda, or Pantica, was named 
because Titus Tatius was allowed to open up and make 
passable a road, that he might take the Capitoline. Before 
these events, then, had the deities never existed? and if 
Romulus had not held the first place in casting the javelin, 
and if the Sabine king had been unable to take the Tarpeian 
rock, would there be no Pantica, no Praestana? And if you 
say that they 4 existed before that which gave rise to their 
name, a question which has been discussed in a preceding 
section, 5 tell us also what they were called. 

4. Pellonia is a goddess mighty to drive back enemies. 
Whose enemies, say, if it is convenient? Opposing armies 
meet, and fighting together, hand to hand, decide the battle ; 
and to one this side, to another that, is hostile. Whom, then, 
will Pellonia turn to flight, since on both sides there will be 

1 The MS. and both Roman edd. read signatorum — " sealed ; " tho 
others, except Hild., ignotorum, as above. 

2 Lit., " drew the meaning of her name." 

3 Lit., " excelled the might of all." 

4 MS., " that these, too," i.e. as well as Luperca. 

5 No such discussion occurs in the preceding part of the work, but 
the subject is brought forward in the end of ch. viii. 


ficrhtinor? or in favour of whom will she incline, seeing that 
she should afford to both sides the might and services of her 
name? But if she indeed 1 did so, that is, if she gave her 
good-will and favour to both sides, she would destroy the 
meaning of her name, which was formed with regard to the 
beating back of one side. But you will perhaps say, She 
is goddess of the Romans only, and, being on the side of 
the Quirites alone, is ever ready graciously to help them. 2 
We wish, indeed, that it were so, for we like the name ; but 
it is a very doubtful matter. What ! do the Romans have 
gods to themselves, who do not help 3 other nations? and 
how can they be gods, if they do not exercise their divine 
power impartially towards all nations everywhere? and where, 
I pray you, was this goddess Pellonia long ago, when the 
national honour was brought under the yoke at the Caudine 
Forks? when at the Trasimene lake the streams ran with 
blood? when the plains of Diomede 4 were heaped up with 
dead Romans? when a thousand other blows were sustained 
in countless disastrous battles? Was she snoring and sleep- 
ing ; or, as the base often do, had she deserted to the enemies' 

5. The sinister deities preside over the regions on the left 
hand only, and are opposed to those on the right. But with 
what reason this is said, or with what meaning, we do not 
understand ourselves ; and we are sure that you cannot in 
any degree cause it to be clearly and generally understood. 6 
For in the first place, indeed, the world itself has in itself 
neither right nor left, neither upper nor under regions, neither 
fore nor after [parts]. For whatever is round, and bounded 
on every side by the circumference 7 of a solid sphere, has 
no beginning, no end ; where there is no end and begin- 

1 In the first sentence the MS. reads utrique, and in the second utique, 
which is reversed in most edd., as above. 

2 Lit., "ever at hand with gracious assistances." 

3 Lit., " are not of." + i.e. the field of Canna>. 

5 Lit., " the parts." 

6 Lit., "it cannot be brought into any light of general understanding 
by you." 

7 Lit., "convexity." 

188 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

ning, no part can have 1 its own name and form the begin- 
ning. Therefore, when we say, This is the right, and that 
the left side, we do not refer to anything 2 in the world, 
which is everywhere very much the same, but to our own 
place and position, we being 3 so formed that we speak of 
some things as on our right hand, of others as on our left ; 
and yet these very things which we name left, and the others 
[which we name] right, have in us no continuance, no fixed- 
ness, but take their forms from our sides, just as chance, 
and the accident of the moment, may have placed us. If I 
look towards the rising sun, the north pole and the north are 
on my left hand ; and if I turn my face thither, the west 
will be on my left, for it will be regarded as behind the sun's 
back. But, again, if I turn my eyes to the region of the 
west, the wind and country of the south are now said to be 
on 4 my left ; and if I am turned to this side by the necessary 
business of the moment, the result is, that the east is said 
[to be] on the left, owing to a further change of position, 5 — 
from which it can be very easily seen that nothing is either 
on our right or on our left by nature, but from position, time, 6 
and according as our bodily position with regard to surround- 
ing objects has been taken up. But in this case, by what 
means, in what way, will there be gods of the regions of the 
left, when it is clear that the same regions are at one time on 
the right, at another on the left ? or what have the regions 
of the right done to the immortal gods, to deserve that they 
should be without any to care for them, while they have 
ordained that these should be fortunate, and ever [accom- 
panied] by lucky omens V 

1 Lit,, " be of." 2 Lit., " to the state of the world." 

3 Lit,, "who have been so formed, that some things are said by us," 
nobis, the reading of Oberthur and Orelli for the MS. in nos — " with re- 
gard to us," which is retained by the first four edd., Elm., Hild., and 

4 i.e. transit in vocdbulum sinistri ; in being omitted in the MS. and both 
Roman edd. 

5 Lit., "the turning round of the body being changed." 

6 So Oehler, reading positione, sect tempore sed, for the MS. positionis et 
temporis et. 


6. Lateranus, 1 as you say, is the god and genius of hearths, 
and received this name because men build that kind of fire- 
place of unbaked bricks. What then? if hearths were made 
of baked clay, or any other material whatever, will they have 
no srenii? and will Lateranus, whoever he is, abandon his 
duty as guardian, because the kingdom which he possesses 
has not been formed of bricks of clay ? And for what pur- 
pose, 2 I ask, has that god received the charge of hearths ? 
He runs about the kitchens of men, examining and discover- 
ing with what kinds of wood the heat in their fires is pro- 
duced; he gives strength 3 to earthen vessels, that they may 
not fly in pieces, overcome by the violence of the flames ; 
he sees that the flavour of unspoilt dainties reaches the taste 
of the palate with their own pleasantness, and acts the part 
of a taster, and tries whether the sauces have been rightly 
prepared. Is not this unseemly, nay — to speak with more 
truth — disgraceful, impious, to introduce some pretended 
deities for this only, not to do them reverence with fitting 
honours, but to appoint them over base things, and disre- 
putable actions ? 4 

7. Does Venus Militaris, also, preside over the evil-doing 5 
of camps, and the debaucheries of young men? Is there 
one Perfica, 6 also, of the crowd of deities, who causes those 
base and filthy delights to reach their end with uninterrupted 
pleasure? Is there also Pertunda, who presides over the 
marriage 7 couch? Is there also Tutunus, on whose huo-e 
members 8 and horrent fascinus you think it auspicious, and 
desire, that your matrons should be borne? But if facts 

1 No mention is made of this deity by any other author. 

2 Lit., "that he may do what." 

3 Lit., " [good] condition," liabitudinem. 

4 Lit., " a disreputable act." 

6 So the MS. reading fagitiis, followed by all edd. except LB. and 
Orelli, who read plagiis — "kidnapping." 

6 Of this goddess, also, no other author makes mention, but the germ 
may be perhaps found in Lucretius (ii. 1116-7), where nature is termed 
pzrfica, i.e. "perfecting," or making all things complete. 

7 i.e. in cubiculis prsesto est virginalem scrobem effodientibus metritis. 

8 The first five edd. read Mutunus. Cf. ch. 11. 

190 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

themselves have very little effect in suggesting to you a right 
understanding of the truth, are you not able, even from the 
very names, to understand that these are the inventions of a 
most meaningless superstition, and the false gods of fancy ? * 
Puta, you say, presides over the pruning of trees, Peta over 
prayers ; Nemestrinus 2 is the god of groves ; Patellana is a 
deity, and Patella, of whom the one has been set over things 
brought to light, the other over those yet to be disclosed. 
Nodutis is spoken of as a god, because he 3 brings that which 
has been sown to the knots ; and she who presides over the 
treading out of grain, Noduterensis ; 4 the goddess Upibilia 5 
delivers from straying from the [right] paths ; parents be- 
reaved of their children are under the care of Orbona, — those 
very near to death, under that of Naenia. Again, 6 Ossilago 
herself is mentioned [as she] who gives firmness and solidity 
to the bones of young children. Mellonia is a goddess, strong 
and powerful in regard to bees, caring for and guarding the 
sweetness of their honey. 

8. Say, I pray you (that Peta, Puta, Patella may gra- 
ciously favour you), if there were no 7 bees at all on the earth 
then, or if we men were born without bones, like some worms, 
would there be no goddess Mellonia ; 8 or would Ossilago, who 
gives bones their solidity, be without a name of her own ? 
I ask truly, and eagerly inquire whether you think that 
gods, or men, or bees, fruits, twigs, and the rest, are the more 

1 Lit., the "fancies" or " imaginations of false gods." Meursius pro- 
posed to transpose the whole of this sentence to the end of the chapter, 
which would give a more strictly logical arrangement ; but it must be 
remembered that Arnobius allows himself much liberty in this respect. 

2 Of these three deities no other mention is made. 

3 The MS., LB., Hild., and Oehler read qui — " who brings ; " the other 
edd., as above, quia. 

4 So the MS. (cf. ch. 11), first five edd., Oberth., Hild., and Oehler ; the 
other edd. read Nodutim Ter. 

5 So the MS., both Koman edd., and Oehler ; the other edd. reading 
Vibilia, except Hild., Viabilia. 

6 The MS. reads nam — "for," followed by all edd. except Orelli, who 
reads jam as above, and Oehler, who reads etiam — " also." 

7 Orelli omits non, following Oberthur. 

8 Both in this and the preceding chapter the MS. reads Melonia. 


ancient in nature, time, long duration? No man will doubt 
that you say that the gods precede all things whatever by 
countless ages and generations. But if it is so, how, in the 
nature of tilings, can it be that, from things produced after- 
wards, they received those names which are earlier in point 
of time 1 or that the gods were charged with the care * of 
those things which were not yet produced, and assigned to 
be of use to men ? Or were the gods long without names ; 
and was it only after things began to spring up, and be on 
the earth, that you thought it right that they should be called 
by these names 2 and titles 1 And whence could you have 
known what name to give to each, since you were wholly 
ignorant of their existence ; or that they possessed [any] fixed 
powers, seeing that you were equally unaware which of them 
had any power, and over what he should be placed to suit 
his divine might ? 

9. What then ? you say ; do you declare that these gods 
exist nowhere in the world, and have been created by unreal 
fancies ? Not we alone, but truth itself, and reason, say so, 
and that common-sense in which all men share. For who 
is there who believes that there are gods of gain, and that 
they preside over the getting of it, seeing that it springs very 
often from the basest employments, and is always at the 
expense of others ! Who believes that Libentina, who that 
Burnus, 3 is set over [those] lusts which wisdom bids us avoid, 
and which, in a thousand ways, vile and filthy wretches 4 
attempt and practise? Who that Limentinus and Lima 
have the care of thresholds, and do the duties of their keepers, 
when every day we see [the thresholds] of temples and 
private houses destroyed and overthrown, and that the in- 

1 Lit., " obtained by lot the wardships." 

2 Lit., "signs." 

3 So the ms., both Roman edd., Hild., and Oehler ; the others reading 
Liburnum, except Elm., who reads -am, while Meursius conjectured 
Liberum — " Bacchus." 

4 Lit., "shameful impurity seeks after;" expetit read by Gelenius, 
Canterus, and Oberthur, for the unintelligible MS. reading expeditur, 
retained in both Roman edd. ; the others reading experitur — "tries." 

192 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

famous approaches to stews are not without them? Who 
believes that the Limi * watch over obliquities? who that 
Saturnus presides over the sown crops? who that Mon- 
tinus is the guardian of mountains ; Murcia, 2 of the slothful ? 
Who, finally, would believe that Money is a goddess, whom 
your writings declare (as though [she were] the greatest 
deity) to give golden rings, 3 the front seats at games and 
shows, honours in the greatest number, the dignity of the 
magistracy, and that which the indolent love most of all, — 
an undisturbed ease, by means of riches. 

10. But if you urge that the bones, [different kinds of] 
honey, thresholds, and all the other things which we have 
either run over rapidly, or, to avoid prolixity, passed by alto- 
gether, have 4 their own peculiar guardians, we may in like 
manner introduce a thousand other gods, who should care 
for and guard innumerable things. For why should a god 
have charge of honey only, and not of gourds, rape, cunila, 
cress, figs, beets, cabbages ? Why should the bones alone 
have found protection, and not the nails, hair, and all the 
other things which are placed in the hidden parts and mem- 
bers of which we feel ashamed, and are exposed to very many 
accidents, and stand more in need of the care and attention 
of the gods ? Or if you say that these parts, too, act under 
the care of their own tutelar deities, there will begin to be as 
many gods as there are things ; nor will the cause be stated 
why the divine care does not protect all things, if you say 
that there are certain things over which the deities preside, 
and for which they care. 

1 The MS. reads Lemons; Hild. and Oehler, Limones; the others, Limos y 
as above. 

2 The MS., LB., Hild., and Oehler read Murcidam ; the others, Murciam, 
as above. 

3 i.e. equestrian rank. 

4 The ms. reading is quid si liaberet in sedibus suos, retained by the first 
five edd., with the change of -ret into -rent — " what if in their seats the 
bones had their own peculiar guardians; " Ursinus in the margin, fol- 
lowed by Hild. and Oehler, reads in se divos suos — " if for themselves the 
bones had gods as their own peculiar," etc. ; the other edd. reading, as 
above, si habere insistitis suos. 


11. What say you, O fathers of new religions, and 
powers? 1 Do you cry out, and complain that these gods 
are dishonoured by us, and neglected with profane contempt, 
viz., Lateranus, the genius of hearths ; Limentinus, who 
presides over thresholds ; Pertunda, 2 Perfica, Noduterensis 1 3 
and do you say that things have sunk into ruin, and that 
the world itself has changed its laws and constitution, be- 
cause we do not bow humbly in supplication to Mutunus 4 
and Tutunus? But now look and see, lest while you ima- 
gine such monstrous things, and form such conceptions, you 
may have offended the gods who most assuredly exist, if 
only there are any who are worthy to bear and hold that 
most exalted title ; and it be for no other reason that those 
evils, of which you speak, rage, and increase by accessions 
every day. 5 Why, then, some one of you will perhaps 
say, do you maintain 6 that it is not true that these gods 
exist ? And, when invoked by the diviners, do they obey the 
call, and come when summoned by their own names, and 
give answers which may be relied on, to those who consult 
them I We can show that what is said is false, either be- 
cause in the whole matter there is the greatest room for 
distrust, or because we, every day, see many of their pre- 

1 i.e. deities. So LB. and Orelli, reading quid potestatum? — " what, 
[0 fathers] of powers." The MS. gives qui— u what say you, fathers 
of new religions, who cry out, and complain that gods of powers are 
indecently dishonoured by us, and neglected with impious contempt," 
etc. Heraldus emends thus: "... fathers of great religions and 
powers? Do you, then, cry out," etc. "Fathers," i.e. those who dis- 
covered, and introduced, unknown deities and forms of worship. 

2 The MS. reads pertus qua:- (marked as spurious) dam; and, according 
to Hild., naeniam is written over the latter word. 

3 So the MS. Cf. ch. 7. 

4 The MS. is here very corrupt and imperfect,— supplices hoc est una 
procumbimus atque est utuno (Orelli omits ut-), emended by Gelenius, 
with most edd., supp. Mut-uno proc. atque Tutuno, as above ; Elm. and 
LB. merely insert hurni — " on the ground," after supp. 

5 Meursius is of opinion that some words have slipped out of the text 
here, and that some arguments had been introduced about augury and 

6 Contendis, not found in the MS. 


194 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

dictions either prove untrue, or wrested with baffled expecta- 
tion [to suit] the opposite issues. 

12. But let them 1 be true, as you maintain, yet will you 
have us also believe 2 that Mellonia, for example, introduces 
herself into the entrails, or Limentinus, and that they set 
themselves to make known 3 what you seek to learn? Did 
you ever see their face, their deportment, their countenance ? 
or can even these be seen in lungs or livers'? May it not 
happen, may it not come to pass, although you craftily con- 
ceal it, that the one should take the other's place, deluding, 
mocking, deceiving, and presenting the appearance of the 
[deity] invoked? If the magi, [who are] so much akin to 4 
soothsayers, relate that, in their incantations, pretended gods' 5 
steal in frequently instead of those invoked; that some of 
these, moreover, are spirits of grosser substance, 6 who pre- 
tend that they are gods, and delude the ignorant by their 
lies and deceit, — why 7 should we not similarly believe that 
here, too, others substitute themselves for those who are not, 
that they may both strengthen your superstitious beliefs, 
and rejoice that victims are slain in sacrifice to them under 
names not their own ? 

13. Or if you refuse to believe this on account of its 
novelty, 8 how can you know whether there is not some one, 
who comes in place of all whom you invoke, and substituting 
himself in all parts of the world, 9 shows to you what appear 
to be 10 many gods and powers? Who is that one? some one 
will ask. We may perhaps, being instructed by truthful 
authors, be able to say ; but, lest you should be unwilling to 

1 i.e. the predictions. 

2 Lit., " will you make the same belief." 

3 Lit., " adapt themselves to the significations of the things which." 

4 Lit., " brothers of." 5 i.e. demons. 

6 Perhaps " abilities" — materiis. 

7 The ms. reads cum — "with similar reason we may believe," instead 
of cur, as above. 

8 Lit., "novelty of the thing." 

9 Lit., " of places and divisions," i.e. places separated from each 

10 Lit., " affords to you the appearance of." 


believe us, let my opponent ask the Egyptians, Persians, 
Indians, Chaldseans, Armenians, and all the others who 
have seen and become acquainted with these things in the 
more recondite arts. Then, indeed, you will learn who is 
the one god, or who the very many under him are, who 
pretend to be gods, and make sport of men's ignorance. 

Even now we are ashamed to come to the point at which 
not only boys, young and pert, but grave men also, cannot 
restrain their laughter, and [men who have been] hardened 
into a strict and stern humour. 1 For while we have all 
heard it inculcated and taught by our teachers, that in de- 
clining [the names] of the gods there was no plural number, 
because the gods were individuals, and the ownership of 
each name could not be common to a great many; 2 you in 
forgetfulness, and putting away the memory of your early 
lessons, both give to several gods the same names, and, 
although you are elsewhere more moderate as to their num- 
ber, have multiplied them, again, by community of names ; 
which subject, indeed, men of keen discernment and acute 
intellect have before now treated both in Latin and Greek. ;] 
And that might have lessened [our labour, 4 ] if it were not 
that at the same time we see that some know nothing of 
these books; and, also, that the discussion which we have 
begun, compels us to bring forward something on these 
subjects, although [it has been already] laid hold of, and 
related by those [writers]. 

14. Your theologians, then, and authors on unknown 
antiquity, say that in the universe there are three Joves, 
one of whom has iEther for his father; another, Coelus; 

1 Lit., " a severity of stern manner" — moris for the MS. mares. 

2 Orelli here introduces the sentence, "For it cannot be," etc., with 
■which this book is concluded in the MS. Cf. ch. 37, n. 

3 There can be no doubt that Arnobius here refers to Clemens Alex- 
andrinus (Aoyo; UpoTpenrtKos Trpog 'EA^z/aj), and Cicero (de Nat. 
Deor.), from whom he borrows most freely in the following chapters, 
quoting them at times very closely. We shall not indicate particuLar 
references without some special reason, as it must be understood these 
references would be required with every statement. 

4 Lit., " given to us an abridging," i.e. an opportunity of abridging. 


the third, Saturn, born and buried 1 in the island of Crete. 
[They speak of] five Suns and five Mercuries, — of whom, as 
they relate, the first Sun is called the son of Jupiter, and is 
regarded as grandson of ^ther ; the second [is] also Jupiter's 
son, and the mother who bore him Hyperiona; 2 the third 
the son of Vulcan, not [Vulcan] of Lemnos, but the son of 
the Nile ; the fourth, whom Acantho bore at llhodes in the 
heroic age, [was] the father of Ialysus ; [while] the fifth is 
regarded as the son of a Scythian king and subtle Circe. 
Again, the first Mercury, who is said to have lusted after 
Proserpina, 3 is son of Coelus, [who is] above all. Under the 
earth is the second, who boasts that he is Trophonius. The 
third [was] born of Maia, his mother, and the third Jove; 4 
the fourth is the offspring of the Nile, whose name the 
people of Egypt dread and fear to utter. The fifth is the 
slayer of Argus, a fugitive and exile, and the inventor of 
letters in Egypt. But there are five Minervas also, they 
say, just as [there are five] Suns and Mercuries ; the first 
of whom is no virgin, but the mother of Apollo by Vulcan ; 
the second, the offspring of the Nile, who is asserted to be 
the Egyptian Sais ; the third is descended from Saturn, 
and is the one who devised the use of arms; the fourth 
is sprung from Jove, and the Messenians name her Cory- 

1 Lit., " committed to sepulture and born in," etc. 

2 Arnobius repeats this statement in cli. xxii., or the name would have 
been regarded as corrupt, no other author making mention of such a 
goddess ; while Cicero speaks of one Sun as born of Hyperion. It 
would appear, therefore, to be very probable that Arnobius, in writing 
from memory or otherwise, has been here in some confusion as to what 
Cicero did say, and thus wrote the name as we have it. It has also 
been proposed to read "born of Regina" (or, with Gelenius, Rhea), 
"and his father Hyperion," because Cybcle is termed ('huct\ for 
which reading there seems no good reason. — Immediately below, Ialysus 
is made the son, instead of, as in Cicero, the grandson of the fourth ; 
and again, Circe is said to be mother, while Cicero speaks of her as the 
daughter of the fifth Sun. These variations, viewed along with the 
general adherence to Cicero's statements (de N. D. iii. 21 sqq.), seem 
to give good grounds for adopting the explanation given above 

3 i.e. in Proserpinam genitalibus adJiinnivisse subrectis. 

4 Lit., " of Jupiter, but the third." 


phasia; and the fifth is she who slew her lustful 1 father, 

15. And lest it should seem tedious and prolix to wisli 
to consider each person singly, the same theologians say 
that there are four Vulcans and three Dianas, as many 
JEsculapii and five Dionysi, six Hercules and four Venuses, 
three sets of Castors and the same number of Muses, three 
winged Cupids, and four named Apollo; 2 whose fathers 
they mention in like manner, in like manner their mothers, 
[and] the places where they were born, and point out the 
origin and family of each. But if it is true and certain, 
and is told in earnest as a [well] known matter, either they 
are not all gods, inasmuch as there cannot be several under 
the same name, as we have been taught ; or if there is one 
of them, he will not be known and recognised, because he 
is obscured by the confusion of very similar names. And 
thus it results from your own action, however unwilling you 
may be that it should be so, that religion is brought into diffi- 
culty and confusion, and has no fixed end to which it can turn 
itself, without being made the sport of equivocal illusions. 

16. For suppose that it had occurred to us, moved either 
by suitable influence or violent fear of you, 3 to worship 
Minerva, for example, with the rites you deem sacred, and 
the usual ceremony : if, when we prepare sacrifices, and 
approach to make [the offerings] appointed for her on the 
flaming altars, all the Minervas shall fly thither, and striv- 
ing for the right to that name, each demand that the offer- 
ings prepared be given to herself ; what drawn-out animal 
shall we place among them, or to whom shall we direct the 
sacred offices which are our duty? 4 For the first one of 
whom we spoke will perhaps say, The name Minerva is mine, 

1 i.e. incestorum appetitorem. 

2 So Cicero (iii. 23) ; but Clemens (p. 24) speaks of five, and notes 
that a sixth had been mentioned. 

3 Lit., " by the violence of your terror." The preceding words are 
read in the MS. ideo motos — u so moved by authority," and were emended 
idonea, as in the text, by Gelenius. 

4 Lit., " to what parts shall we transfer the duties of pious service." 

198 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

mine " the divine majesty, ivho bore Apollo and Diana, and by 
the fruit of my ivomb enriched heaven with deities, and mul- 
tiplied the number of the gods. Nay, Minerva, the fifth will 
say, are you speaking, 2 who, being a wife, and so often a mother, 
have lost the sanctity of spotless purity ? Do you not see that 
in all temples 3 the images of Minervas are those of virgins, 
and that all artists refrain from giving to them the figures 
of matrons ? 4 Cease, therefore, to appropriate to yourself a 
name not rightfully* yours. For that I am Minerva, be- 
gotten of father Pallas, the whole band of poets bear witness, 
who call me Pallas, the surname being derived from my 
father. What say you, the second will cry on hearing this ; 
do you, then, bear the name of Minerva, an impudent parri- 
cide, and one defiled by the pollution of lewd lust, who, decking 
yourself with rouge and a harlot's arts, roused upon yourself 
even your father s passions, full of maddening desires ? Go 
further, then, seek for yourself another name; for this belongs 
to me, whom the Nile, greatest of rivers, begot from among his 
flowing waters, and brought to a maiden's state from the con- 
densing of moisture? But if you inquire into the credibility 
of the matter, 1 too will bring as witnesses the Egyptians, 
in whose language I am called Neith, as Plato's Timseus 7 

1 The MS. reads cum numen ; Rigaltius, followed by Oehler, emending, 
as above, meum; the first four edd., with Oberthur, turn — "then the 
deity [is mine] ;" while the rest read cum numine — u with the deity." 

2 So LB., Orelli, and Oehler, reading tu tinnis for the MS. tutunis. 

3 Capitoliis. In the Capitol were three shrines, — to Jove, Juno, and 
Minerva ; and Roman colonies followed the mother-state's example. 
Hence the present general application of the term, which is found else- 
where in ecclesiastical Latin. 

4 Lit., " Nor are the forms of married persons given to these by all 
artists ;" nee read in all edd. for the MS. et — " and of married," etc. 
which is opposed to the context. 

5 Lit., "not of your own right." 

6 Concretione roris — a strange phrase. Cf. Her. iv. 180 : " They say 
that Minerva is the daughter of Poseidon and the Tritonian lake." 

7 St. p. 21. The MS. reads quorum Nili lingua latonis; the two Roman 
edd. merely insert p., Plat. ; Gelenius and Canterus adding dicor — " in 
whose language I am called the Kile's," Nili being changed into Neith 
by Elmenhorst and later edd. 


attests. What, then, do we suppose will be the result? 
Will she indeed cease to say that she is Minerva, who is 
named Coryphasia, either to mark her mother, or because she 
sprung forth from the top of Jove's head, bearing a shield, 
and girt with the terrors of arms ? Or [are we to suppose] 
that she who is third will quietly surrender the name 1 and 
not argue 1 and resist the assumption of the first [two] with 
such words as these, Do you thus dare to assume the honour 
of my name, Sais, 2 sprung from the mud and eddies of 
a stream, and formed in miry places ? Or do you usurp 3 
another 's rank, who falsely say that you were born a goddess 
from the head of Jupiter, and persuade very silly men that 
you are reason ? Does he conceive and bring forth children 
from his head ? That the arms you bear might be forged and 
formed, ivas there even in the hollow of his head a smith 9 s 
workshop ? \ivere there"] anvils, hammers, furnaces, bellows, 
coals, and pincers'? Or if, as you maintain, it is true that you 
are reason, cease to claim for yourself the name which is mine ; 
for reason, of which you. speak, is not a certain form of deity, 
but the understanding of difficult questions. If, then, as we 
have said, five Minervas should meet us when we essay to 
sacrifice, 4 and contending as to whose this name is, each 
demand that either fumigations of incense be offered to her, 
or sacrificial wines poured out from golden cups; by what 
arbiter, by what judge, shall we dispose of so great a dis- 
pute ! or what examiner will there be, what umpire of so 
great boldness as to attempt, with such personages, either 
to give a just decision, or to declare their causes not founded 
on right ? Will he not rather go home, and, keeping him- 
self apart from such matters, think it safer to have nothing to 
do with them, lest he should either make enemies of the rest, 
by giving to one what belongs to all, or be charged with 
folly for yielding 5 to all what should be the property of one % 

1 Lit., " take account of herself." 

2 So Ursirms suggested in the margin for the MS. si verum. 

3 The third Minerva now addresses the fourth. 

4 Lit., "approaching the duties of religion." 

5 According to the MS. sic— "for so {i.e. as you do) yielding," etc. 

200 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

17. We may say the very same things of the Mercuries, 
the Suns, — indeed of all the others whose numbers you in- 
crease and multiply. But it is sufficient to know from one 
case that the same principle applies to the rest ; and, lest 
our prolixity should chance to weary our audience, we shall 
cease to deal with individuals, lest, while we accuse you of 
excess, we also should ourselves be exposed to the charge of 
excessive loquacity. What do you say, you who, by [the 
fear of] bodily tortures, urge us to worship the gods, and 
constrain us to undertake the service of your deities ? We 
can be easily won, if only something befitting the conception 
of so great a race be shown to us. Show us Mercury, but 
[only] one ; give us Bacchus, but [only] one ; one Venus, 
and in like manner one Diana. For you will never make 
us believe that there are four Apollos, or three Jupiters, not 
even if you were to call Jove himself as witness, or make the 
Pythian [god] your authority. 

18. But some one on the opposite side says, How do we 
know whether the theologians have written what is certain 
and well known, or set forth a wanton fiction, 1 as they thought 
and judged ? That has nothing to do with the matter ; nor 
does the reasonableness of your argument depend upon this, 
— whether the facts are as the writings of the theologians 
state, or are otherwise and markedly different. For to us it 
is enough to speak of things which come before the public ; 
and [we need] not inquire what is true, but [only] confute 
and disprove that which lies open to all, and [which] men's 
thoughts have generally received. But if they are liars, 
declare yourselves what is the truth, and disclose the un- 
assailable mystery. And how can it be done when the 
services of men of letters are set aside ? For what is there 
which can be said about the immortal gods that has not 
reached men's thoughts from what has been written by men 
on these subjects 1 2 Or can you relate anything yourselves 

1 So all the edd., though Orclli approves of Jictionc (edd. -em), which 
is, he says, the MS. reading, u set forth with wanton fiction." 

2 The MS. and earlier edd., with Hild. and Oehler, read ex hominum 
de scriptis ; LB. and Orelli inserting his after de, as above. 


about their rites and ceremonies, which has not been recorded 
in books, and made known by what authors have written ? 
Or if you think these of no importance, let all the books 
be destroyed which have been composed about the gods for 
you by theologians, pontiffs, [and] even some devoted to the 
study of philosophy ; nay, let us rather suppose that from 
the foundation of the world no man ever wrote 1 anything 
about the gods: we wish to find out, and desire to know, 
whether you can mutter or murmur in mentioning the gods, 2 
or conceive those in thought to whom no idea 3 from any 
book gave shape in your minds. But when it is clear that 
you have been informed of their names and powers by the 
suggestions of books, 4 it is unjust to deny the reliableness of 
these books by whose testimony and authority you establish 
what you say. 

19. But perhaps these things will turn out to be false, 
and what you say to be true. By what proof, by what 
evidence [will it be shown] ? For since both parties are 
men, both those who have said the one thin^ and those who 
have said the other, and on both sides the discussion was of 
doubtful matters, it is arrogant to say that that is true which 
seems so to you, but that that which offends your feelings 
manifests wantonness and falsehood. By the laws of the 
human race, and the associations of mortality itself, wdien 
you read and hear, That god was born of this [father] and 
of that mother, do you not feel in your mind 5 that something 
is said which belongs to man, and relates to the meanness of 
our earthly race? Or, while you think that it is so, 6 do 
you conceive no anxiety lest you should in something offend 
the gods themselves, whoever they are, because you believe 
that it is owing to filthy intercourse . . . 7 that they have 

1 The MS. and both Roman edd. read esse, which is clearly corrupt ; 
for which LB. gives scripsisse (misprinted scripse), as above. 

2 i.e. " speak of them at all." 3 Lit., " an idea of no writing." 

4 Lit., " been informed by books suggesting to you," etc. 

5 Lit., "does it not touch the feeling of your mind." 
c Ursinus would supply eos — "that they are so." 

7 Atque ex seminis actu, or jactu, as the edd. except Hild. read it. 

202 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

reached the light they knew not of, thanks to lewdness? 
For we, lest any one should chance to think that we are 
ignorant of, do not know, what befits the majesty of that 
name, assuredly 1 think that the gods should not know birth; 
or if they are born at all, we hold and esteem that the Lord 
and Prince of the universe, by ways which he knew himself, 
sent them forth spotless, most pure, undefiled, ignorant of 
sexual pollution, 2 and brought to the full perfection of their 
natures as soon as they were begotten. 3 

20. But you, on the contrary, forgetting how great 4 their 
dignity and grandeur are, associate with them a birth, 5 and 
impute [to them] a descent, 5 which men of at all refined 
feelings regard as at once execrable and terrible. From 
Ops, you say, his mother, and from his father Saturn, 
Diespiter was born with his brothers. Do the gods, then, 
have wives ; and, the matches having been previously planned, 
do they become subject to the bonds of marriage ? Do they 
take upon themselves 6 the engagements of the bridal couch 
by prescription, by the cake of spelt, and by a pretended 
sale? 7 Have they their mistresses, 8 their promised wives, 
their betrothed brides, on settled conditions? And what 
do w r e say about their marriages, too, when indeed you say 
that some celebrated their nuptials, and entertained joyous 
throngs, and that the goddesses sported at these ; and that 
[some] threw all things into utter confusion with dissensions 
because they had no share in [singing] the Fescennine 

1 The Ms. reads dignitatis aut; corrected, as above, d. sane, in the first 
five edd., Oberthur, and Orelli. 

2 Qux sitfceditas ista coeundi. 

3 Lit., "as far as to themselves, their first generation being com- 

4 Lit., "forgetting the so great majesty and sublimity." 

6 Both plural. 

c The MS., first four edd., and Oberthur read conducunt — "unite;" 
for which the rest read condic-unt, as above. 

7 i.e. usu, farre, coemptione. 

8 The word here translated mistresses, speratas, is used of maidens 
loved, but not yet asked in marriage. 


verses, and occasioned danger and destruction 1 to the next 
generation of men ? 2 

21. But perhaps this foul pollution may be less apparent 
in the rest. Did, then, the ruler of the heavens, the father 
of gods and men, who, by the motion of his eyebrow, and by 
his nod, shakes the whole heavens and makes them tremble, 
— did he find his origin in man and woman 1 And unless 
both sexes abandoned [themselves] to degrading pleasures 
in sensual embraces, 3 would there be no Jupiter, greatest of 
all ; and even to this time would the divinities have no king, 
and heaven stand without its lord ? And why do we marvel 
that you say Jove sprang from a woman's womb, seeing 
that your authors relate that he both had a nurse, and in 
the next place maintained the life given to him by nourish- 
ment [drawn from] a foreign 4 breast? What say you, O 
men ? Did, then, shall I repeat, [the god] who makes the 
thunder crash, lightens and hurls the thunderbolt, and 
draws together terrible clouds, drink in the streams of the 
breast, wail as an infant, creep about, and, that he might 
[be persuaded to] cease his crying most foolishly protracted, 
was he made silent by the noise of rattles, 5 and put to 
sleep lying in a very soft cradle, and lulled with broken 
words? O devout assertion [of the existence] of gods, 
pointing out and declaring the venerable majesty of their 
awful grandeur ! Is it thus in your opinion, I ask, that the 
exalted powers 6 of heaven are produced? do your gods come 
forth to the light by modes of birth such as these, by which 
asses, pigs, dogs, by which the whole of this unclean herd 7 
of earthly beasts is conceived and begotten ? 

22. And, not content to have ascribed these carnal unions 
to the venerable Saturn, 8 you affirm that the king of the 

1 Lit., "dangers of destructions." 

2 Instead of " occasioned," sevisse, which the later editions give, the 
MS. and first four edd. read sxvisse — "that danger and destruction raged 
against," etc. 

3 Copulatis corporibus. 

4 i.e. not his mother's, but the dug of the goat Amalthea. 

6 Lit., " rattles heard." 6 Lit., " the eminence of the powers." 

7 Lit., " inundation." 8 Lit., " Saturnian gravity." 

204 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

world himself begot children even more shamefully than he 
was himself born and begotten. Of Hyperiona, 1 as his 
mother, you say, and Jupiter, who wields the thunderbolt, 
was born the golden and blazing Sun ; of Latona and the 
same, the Delian archer, and Diana, 2 who rouses the woods ; 
of Leda and the same, 3 those named in Greek Dioscori ; of 
Alcmena and the same, the Theban Hercules, whom his club 
and hide defended ; of him and Semele, Liber, who is named 
Bromius, and was born a second time from his father's thigh ; 
of him, again, and Maia, Mercury, eloquent in speech, and 
bearer of the harmless snakes. Can any greater insult be 
put upon your Jupiter, or is there anything else which will 
destroy and ruin the reputation of the chief of the gods, 
farther than that you believe him to have been at times 
overcome by vicious pleasures, and to have glowed with the 
passion of a heart roused to lust after women ? And what 
had the Saturnian king to do with strange nuptials? Did 
Juno not suffice him ; and could he not stay the force of his 
desires on the queen of the deities, although so great excel- 
lence graced her, [such] beauty, majesty of countenance, 
and snowy and marble whiteness of arms? Or did he, not 
content with one wife, taking pleasure in concubines, mis- 
tresses, and courtezans, a lustful god, show 4 his incontinence 
in all directions, as is the custom with dissolute 5 youths; and 
in old age, after intercourse with numberless persons, did 

1 Cf. ch. 14, note 2. 

2 It is worth while to compare this passage with ch. 16. Here Arno- 
bius makes Latona the mother of Apollo and Diana, in accordance with 
the common legend ; but there he represents the first Minerva as claim- 
ing them as her children. 

3 In the ms. there is here an evident blunder on the part of the copyist, 
who has inserted the preceding line ("the archer Apollo, and of the 
woods") after "the same." Omitting these words, the MS. reading is lite- 
rally, " the name in Greek is to the Dioscori." Before "the name " some 
word is pretty generally supposed to have been lost, some conjecturing 
"to whom;" others (among them Orelli, following Salmasius) " Cas- 
tores." But it is evidently not really necessary to supplement the text. 

4 Lit., " scatter." 

5 Orelli reads, with the MS., LB., and Hild., labccali, which he inter- 
prets belli, i.e. "handsome." 


he renew his eagerness for pleasures [now] losing their zest ? 
What say you, profane ones ; or what vile thoughts do you 
fashion about your Jove ? Do you not, then, observe, do you 
not see with what disgrace you brand him? of what wrong- 
doing you make him the author? or what stains of vice, 
how great infamy you heap upon him ! 

23. Men, though prone to lust, and inclined, through weak- 
ness of character, to [yield to] the allurements of sensual 
pleasures, still punish adultery by the laws, and visit with 
the penalty of death those whom they find to have possessed 
themselves of others' rights by forcing the marriage-bed. 
The greatest of kings, [however, you tell us,] did not know 
how vile, how infamous the person of the seducer and adul- 
terer was ; and he who, as is said, examines our merits and 
demerits, did not, owing to the reasonings of his abandoned 
heart, see what was the fitting course [for him] to resolve on. 
But this misconduct might perhaps be endured, if you were 
to conjoin him with persons at least his equals, and [if] he 
were made by you the paramour of the immortal goddesses. 
But what beauty, what grace was there, I ask you, in human 
bodies, which could move, which could turn to it 1 the eyes of 
Jupiter? Skin, entrails, phlegm, and all that filthy mass 
placed under the coverings of the intestines, which not Lyn- 
ceus only with his searching gaze can shudder at, but any 
other also can [be made to] turn from even by merely think- 
ing. O wonderful reward of guilt, O fitting and precious 
joy, for which Jupiter, the greatest, should become a swan, 
and a bull, and beo;et white es^s ! 

24. If you will open your minds' eyes, and see the real 2 
truth without gratifying any private end, you will find that 
the causes of all the miseries by which, as you say, the human 
race has long been afflicted, flow from such beliefs which 
you held in former times about your gods ; and which you 
have refused to amend, although the truth was placed before 
your eyes. For what about them, pray, have we indeed 

1 MS. and first five edd. read inde— "thence ;" the others in se, as above. 

2 Orelli, without receiving into the text, approves of the reading f 
Stewechius. promptam, "evident," for the MS. propriam. 

206 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

ever either imagined which was unbecoming, or put forth in 
shameful writings that the troubles which assail men and 
the loss of the blessings of life 1 should be used to excite a 
prejudice against us? Do we say that certain gods were 
produced from eggs, 2 like storks and pigeons ? [Do we say] 
that the radiant Cytherean Venus grew up, having taken 
form from the sea's foam and the severed genitals of Coelus ? 
that Saturn was thrown into chains for parricide, and re- 
lieved from their weight only on his own days ? 3 that Jupiter 
was saved from death 4 by the services of the Curetes? thai- 
he drove his father from the seat of power, and by force 
and fraud possessed a sovereignty not his own ? Do we say 
that his aged sire, when driven out, concealed himself in the 


territories of the Itali, and gave his name as a gift to Latiu 
because he had been [there] protected from his son ? Do 
we say that Jupiter himself incestuously married his sister ? 
or, instead of pork, breakfasted in ignorance upon the son of 
Lycaon, when invited to his table ? that Vulcan, limping on 
one foot, wrought as a smith in the island of Lemnos ? that 
JEsculapius was transfixed by a thunderbolt because of his 
greed and avarice, as the Boeotian Pindar 6 sings? that 
Apollo, having become rich, by his ambiguous responses, 
deceived the very kings by whose treasures and gifts he had 
been enriched? Did we declare that Mercury was a thief? 
that Laverna is [so] also, and along with him presides over 
secret frauds ? Is the writer Myrtilus one of us, who de- 
clares that the Muses were the handmaids of Megalcon, 7 
daughter of Macarus ? 8 

1 Lit., "the benefits diminished by which it is lived." 

2 The MS. reads ex Jovis ; the first five edd. Jove — " from Jove," which 
is altogether out of place ; the others, as above, ex ovis. Cf. i. 36. 

3 The MS. reads et ablui diebus tantis . . . elevari ; LB., Hild., and Oehler, 
static or statutis . . . et levari — "and was loosed and released on fixed 
days;" Elm., Oberthiir, and Orelli receive the conjecture of Ursinus, et 
suis diebus tantum . . . rel, as above. 

4 Cf. iii. 41. 

5 i.e. hiding-place. Virg. JEn. viii. 322 : Quoniam latuisset tutus in oris. 

6 Pyth. iii. 102 sq. 7 MS. Meglac. 

8 The MS. and most edd. give Jilias, making the Muses daughters of 


25. Did we say 1 that Venus was a courtezan, deified by a 
Cyprian king named Cinyras? Who reported that the 
palladium was formed from the remains of Pelops 1 Was 
it not you? Who that Mars was Spartanus ? was it not 
your writer Epicharmus? Who that he was born within 
the confines of Thrace ? was it not Sophocles the Athenian, 
with the assent of all his spectators ? Who [that he was 
born] in Arcadia % was it not you ? Who that he was kept 
a prisoner for thirteen months? 2 was it not the son of the 
river Meles ? Who [said] that dogs were sacrificed to him 
by the Carians, asses by the Scythians ? was it not Apollo- 
dorus especially, along with the rest % Who that in wronging 
another's marriage couch, he was caught entangled in snares I 
was it not your writings, your tragedies ? Did we ever write 
that the gods for hire endured slavery, as Hercules at Sardis 3 
for lust and wantonness ; as the Delian Apollo, [who served] 
Admetus, as Jove's brother, [who served] the Trojan Lao- 
medon, whom the Pythian also [served], but with his uncle ; 
as Minerva, who gives light, and trims the lamps to secret 
lovers % Is not he one of your poets, who represented Mars 
and Venus as wounded by men's hands ? Is not Panyassis 

Macarus; but Orelli, Hild., and Oehler adopt, as above, the reading of 
Canterus, jiliee,, in accordance with Clem. Alex. 

1 So the MS. reading numquid dictation, which would refer this sen- 
tence to the end of the last chapter. Gelenius, with Canth., Oberth., 
and Orelli, reads quis ditatam, and joins with the following sentence 
thus: "Who related that Venus, a courtezan enriched by C, was 
deified . . . ? who that the palladium," etc. Cf. v. 19. 

2 The MS. reads quis mensibus in Arcadia tribus et decern vinctum — 
"Who that he was bound thirteen months in Arcadia? was it not the 
son," etc. To which there are these two objections, — that Homer never 
says so ; and that Clemens Alexandrinus (Protrept. p. 25), from whom 
Arnobius here seems to draw, speaks of Homer as saying only that Mars 
was so bound, without referring to Arcadia. The MS. reading may have 
arisen from carelessness on the part of Arnobius in quoting (cf. ch. 14, 
n. 2), or may be a corruption of the copyists. The reading translated 
is an emendation by Jortin, adopted by Orelli. 

3 Sardibus, — a conjecture of Ursinus, adopted by LB., Hild., and 
Oehler for the MS. sordibus; for which the others read sordidi — " for the 
sake of base lust." 

208 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

one of you, who relates that father Dis and queenly Juno 
were wounded by Hercules t Do not the writings of your 
Polemo say that Pallas * was slain, 2 covered with her own 
blood, overwhelmed by Ornytus f Does not Sosibius declare 
that Hercules himself was afflicted by the wound and pain 
he suffered at the hands of Hipocoon's children ? Is it re- 
lated at our instance that Jupiter was committed to the grave 
in the island of Crete ? Do we say that the brothers, 3 who 
were united in their cradle, were buried in the territories 
of Sparta and Lacedasmon ? Is the author of our number, 
who is termed Patrocles the Thurian in the titles of his 
writings, who relates that the tomb and remains of Saturn 
are found 4 in Sicily? Is Plutarch of Chreronea 5 esteemed 
one of us, who said that Hercules was reduced to ashes on 
the top of Mount (Eta, after his loss of strength through 
epilepsy ? 

26. But what shall I say of the desires with which it is 
written in your books, and contained in your writers, that 
the holy immortals lusted after women? For is it by us 
that the kino; of the sea is asserted in the heat of maddened 
passion to have robbed of their virgin purity Amphitrite, 6 
Hippothoe, Amymone, Menaiippe, Alope? 7 that the spotless 
Apollo, Latona's son, most chaste and pure, with the passions 
of a breast not governed by reason, desired Arsinoe, iEthusa, 
Hypsipyle, Marpessa, Zeuxippe, and Prothoe, Daphne, and 
Sterope? 6 Is it shown in our poems that the aged Saturn, 
already long covered with grey hair, and now cooled by 
weight of years, being taken by his wife in adultery, put on 
the form of one of the lower animals, and neighing [loudly], 
escaped in the shape of a beast ? Do you not accuse Jupiter 

1 Lit, " the masculine one." 

2 As this seems rather extravagant when said of one of the immortals, 
Ixsam, " hurt," has been proposed by Meursius. 

s Castor and Pollux. 4 Lit., " contained." 

5 The MS. reads Hieronymus PL — " is Hier., is PL," while Clem. Alex, 
mentions only "Hieronymus the philosopher." 

6 These names are all in the plural in the original. 

7 So LB. and Orelli, reading Alopas, from Clem. Alex., for the MS. 


himself of having assumed countless forms, and concealed 
by mean deceptions the ardour of his wanton lust ? Have 
we ever written that he obtained his desires by deceit, at one 
time changing into gold, at another into a sportive satyr; 
into a serpent, a bird, a bull ; and, to pass beyond all limits 
of disgrace, into a little ant, that he might, forsooth, make 
Clitor's daughter the mother of Myrmidon, in Thessaly? 
Who represented him as having watched over Alcmena for 
nine nights without ceasing ? was it not you 1 — that he indo- 
lently abandoned himself to his lusts, forsaking his post in 
heaven? was it not you? And, indeed, you ascribe 1 [to 
him] no mean favours; since, in your opinion, the god 
Hercules was born to exceed and surpass in such matters 
his father's powers. He in nine nights begot 2 with diffi- 
culty one son ; but Hercules, a holy god, in one night taught 
the fifty daughters of Thestius at once to lay aside their 
virginal title, and to bear a mother's burden. Moreover, 
not content to have ascribed to the gods love of women, do 
you also say that they lusted after men ? Some one loves 
Hylas ; another is engaged with Hyacinthus ; that one burns 
with desire for Pelops; this one sighs more ardently for 
Chrysippus ; Catamitus is carried off to be a favourite and 
cup-bearer; and Fabius, that he may be called Jove's darling, 
is branded on the soft parts, and marked in the hinder. 

27. But among you, is it only the males who love; and 
has the female sex preserved its purity? 3 Is it not proved 
in your books that Tithonus was loved by Aurora; that 
Luna lusted after Endymion ; the Nereid after ^Eacus ; 
Thetis after Achilles' father ; Proserpina after Adonis ; her 
mother, Ceres, after some rustic Jasion, and afterwards 
Vulcan, Phaeton, 4 Mars; Venus herself, the mother of iEneas, 
and founder of the Roman power, to marry Anchises? 

1 Ut, "you add." 

2 In the original, somewhat at large— imam potuit prolem extundere, 
concinnare, compingere. 

3 All edd. read this without mark of interrogation. 

4 The MS. reads Phxtontem : for which, both here and in Clem., Potter 
proposed PJiaonem, because no such amour is mentioned elsewhere. 


210 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

"While, therefore, you accuse, without making [any] excep- 
tion, not one only by name, but the whole of the gods alike, 
in whose existence you believe, of such acts of extraordinary 
shamefulness and baseness, do you dare, without violation of 
modesty, to say either that we are impious, or that you are 
pious, although they receive from you much greater occasion 
for offence on account of all the shameful acts which you 
heap up to their reproach, than in connection with the 
service and duties required by their majesty, honour, and 
worship? For either all these things are false which you 
bring forward about them individually, lessening their credit 
and reputation ; and it is [in that case] a matter quite de- 
serving, that the gods should utterly destroy the race of men ; 
or if they are true and certain, and perceived without any 
reasons for doubt, it comes to this issue, that, however un- 
willing you may be, w T e believe them to be not of heavenly, 
but of earthly birth. 

28. For where there are weddings, marriages, births, 
nurses, arts, 1 and weaknesses ; where there is liberty and 
slavery ; where there are wounds, slaughter, and [shedding 
of] blood ; where there are lusts, desires, sensual pleasures ; 
where there is every mental passion arising from disgusting 
emotions, — there must of necessity be nothing godlike there ; 
nor can that cleave to a superior nature which belongs to 
a fleeting race, and to the frailty of earth. For who, if only 
he recognises and perceives what the nature of that power is, 
can believe either that a deity had the generative members, 
and was deprived of them by a very base operation ; or that 
he at one time cut off the children sprung from himself, and 
was punished by suffering imprisonment ; or that he, in a 
w r ay, made civil war upon his father, and deprived him of 
the right of governing ; or that he, filled with fear of one 
younger when overcome, turned to flight, and hid in remote 
solitudes, like a fugitive and exile ? Who, I say, can believe 

1 i.e. either the arts which belong to each god (cf. the words in 
ii. 18 : " these [arts] are not the gifts of science, but the discoveries of 
necessity"), or, referring to the words immediately preceding, obstetric 


that the deity reclined at men's tables, was troubled on 
account of his avarice, deceived his suppliants by an ambigu- 
ous reply, excelled in the tricks of thieves, committed adultery, 
acted as a slave, was wounded, and in love, and submitted 
to the seduction of impure desires in all the forms of lust ? 
But yet you declare all these things both were, and are, in 
your s;ods; and you pass by no form of vice, wickedness, 
error, without bringing it forward, in the wantonness of 
your fancies, to the reproach of the gods. You must, 
therefore, either seek out other gods, to whom all these 
[reproaches] shall not apply, for they are a human and 
earthly race to whom they apply; or if there are only 
these whose names and character you have declared, by 
your beliefs you do away with them : for all the things of 
which you speak relate to men. 

29. And here, indeed, we can show that all those whom 
you represent to us as and call gods, were [but] men, by 
quoting either Euhemerus of Acragas, 1 whose books were 
translated by Ennius into Latin that all might be thoroughly 
acquainted [with them] ; or Nicanor 2 the Cyprian ; or the 
Pellaean Leon ; or Theodoras of Cyrene ; or Hippo and 
Diagoras of Melos ; or a thousand other writers, who have 
minutely, industriously, and carefully 3 brought secret things 
to light with noble candour. We may, I repeat, at pleasure, 
declare both the acts of Jupiter, and the wars of Minerva 
and the virgin 4 Diana; by what stratagems Liber strove to 
make himself master of the Indian empire; what was the condi- 
tion, the duty, the gain 5 of Venus ; to whom the great mother 
was bound in marriage ; what hope, what joy was aroused in 
her by the comely Attis ; whence [came] the Egyptian Serapis 
and Isis, or for what reasons their very names 6 were formed. 

3 Lit., " Euhemerus being opened." 

2 So Elm. and Orelli, reading Nicanore for the MS. Nicagora, retained 
by all other edd. 

3 Lit., " with the care of scrupulous diligence." 

4 Meursius would join virginis to Minerva, thinking it an allusion to 
her title Hxp&ii/o;. 

5 These terms are employed of hetsera). 

6 Lit., " the title itself of their names was." 

212 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

30. But in the discussion which we at present maintain , 
we do not undertake this trouble or service, to show and de- 
clare who all these were. [But] this is what we proposed to 
ourselves, that as you call us impious and irreligious, [and,] 
on the other hand, maintain that you are pious and serve the 
gods, we should prove and make manifest that by no men 
are they treated with less respect than by you. But if it is 
proved by the very insults that it is so, it must, as a conse- 
quence, be understood that it is you who rouse the gods to 
fierce and terrible rage, because you either listen to or believe, 
or yourselves invent about them, stories so degrading. For 
it is not he who is anxiously thinking of religious rites, 1 and 
slays spotless victims, who gives piles of incense to be burned 
with fire, not he must be thought to worship the deities, or 
alone discharge the duties of religion. True worship is in 
the heart, and a belief worthy of the gods ; nor does it at 
all avail to bring blood and gore, if you believe about them 
things which are not only far remote from and unlike their 
nature, but even to some extent stain and disgrace both 
their dignity and virtue. 

31. We wish, then, to question you, and invite you to 
answer a short question, Whether you think it a greater offence 
to sacrifice to them no victims, because you think that so 
great a being neither wishes nor desires these ; or, with foul 
beliefs, to hold opinions about them so degrading, that they 
might rouse any one's spirit to a mad desire for revenge ? 
If the relative importance of the matters be weighed, you 
will find no judge so prejudiced as not to believe it a greater 
crime to defame by manifest insults any one's reputation, 
than to treat it with silent neglect. For this, perhaps, may 
be held and believed from deference to reason ; [but] the 
other course manifests an impious spirit, and a blindness 
despaired of in fiction. If in your ceremonies and rites 
neglected sacrifices and expiatory offerings may be demanded, 
guilt is said to have been contracted ; if by a momentary 

1 Qui sollicite relegit. Uclcgit is here used by Arnobius to denote the 
root of religio, and has therefore some such meaning as that given above. 
Cf. Cicero, de Nat. Deorum, ii. 28 


forgetf ulness * any one has erred either in speaking or in 
pouring wine ; 2 or again, 3 if at the solemn games and sacred 
races the dancer has halted, or the musician suddenly become 
silent, — you all cry out immediately that something has been 
done contrary to the sacredness of the ceremonies ; or if the 
boy termed patrimus let go the thong in ignorance, 4 or could 
not hold [to] the earth : 5 and [yet] do you dare to deny that 
the gods are ever being wronged by you in sins so grievous, 
while you confess yourselves that, in less matters, they are 
often angry, to the national ruin ? 

32. But all these things, they say, are the fictions of poets, 
and games arranged for pleasure. It is not credible, indeed, 
that men by no means thoughtless, who sought to trace out 
the character of the remotest antiquity, either did not G insert 
in their poems the fables which survived in men's minds 7 
and common conversation ; 8 or that they would have assumed 
to themselves so great licence as to foolishly feign what was 
almost sheer madness, and might give them reason to be 
afraid of the gods, and bring them into danger with men. 
But let us grant that the poets are, as you say, the inventors 
and authors of tales so disgraceful ; you are not, however, 
even thus free from the guilt of dishonouring the gods, who 
either are remiss in punishing such offences, or have not, by 
passing laws, and by severity of punishments, opposed such 

1 Lit., "an error of inadvertence." 

2 Lit., " with the sacrificial bowl." 

3 So the MS., both Roman edd., Elm., Hild., and Oehler, reading rur- 
sus ; the others in cursu — u in the course." 

4 Patrimus, i.e. one whose father is alive, is probably used loosely for 
patrimus et matrimus, to denote one both of whose parents were alive, 
who was therefore eligible for certain religious services. 

5 So the MS. reading terram tenere, for which Hild. would read ten- 
sam, denoting the car on which were borne the images of the gods, the 
thongs or reins of which were held by the patrimus et matrimus; Lipsius, 
siserram, the sacrificial victim. The reading of the text has been ex- 
plained as meaning to touch the ground with one's hands ; but the general 
meaning is clear enough,— that it was unlucky if the boy made a slip, 
either with hands or feet. 

6 Oberthiir and Orelli omit turn.* 7 Lit., "notions." 
8 Lit., "placed in their ears." 

214 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

indiscretion, and determined 1 that no man should henceforth 
say that which tended to the dishonour, 2 or was unworthy of 
the glory of the gods. 3 For whoever allows the wrongdoer 
to sin, strengthens his audacity ; and it is more insulting to 
brand and mark any one with false accusations, than to bring 
forward and upbraid their real offences. For to be called 
what you are, and what you feel yourself to be, is less offen- 
sive, because [your resentment] is checked by the evidence 
supplied against you on privately reviewing your life ; 4 but 
that wounds very keenly which brands the innocent, and 
defames a man's honourable name and reputation. 

33. Your gods, it is recorded, dine on celestial couches, 
and in golden chambers, drink, and are at last soothed by 
the music of the lyre, and singing. You fit them with ears 
not easily wearied ; 5 and do not think it unseemly to assign 
to the gods the pleasures by which earthly bodies are sup- 
ported, and which are sought after by ears enervated by the 
frivolity of an unmanly spirit. Some of them are brought 
forward in the character of lovers, destroyers of purity, to 
commit shameful and degrading deeds not only with women, 
but with men also. You take no care as to what is said 
about matters of so much importance, nor do you check, 
by any fear of chastisement at least, the recklessness of your 
wanton literature ; others, through madness and frenzy, be- 
reave themselves, and by the slaughter of their own relatives 
cover themselves with blood, just as though it were that of 
an enemy. You wonder at these loftily expressed impieties ; 
and that which it was fitting should be subjected to all pun- 
ishments, you extol with praise that spurs them on, so as to 
rouse their recklessness to greater vehemence. They mourn 
over the wounds of their bereavement, and with unseemly 

1 Lit., " and it has [not] been established by you," — a very abrupt 
transition in the structure of the sentence. 

2 Lit., " which was very near to disgrace." 

3 So the margin of Ursinus, followed by later edd., prefixing d before 
the MS. -coram. 

4 Lit., " has less bite, being weakened by the testimony of silent re- 
viewing," recognitionis. 

5 Lit., " most enduring." 


waitings accuse the cruel fates; you are astonished at the 
force of their eloquence, carefully study [and] commit to 
memory that which should have been wholly put away from 
human society, 1 and are solicitous that it should not perish 
through any forgetfulness. They are spoken of as being 
wounded, maltreated, making war upon each other with hot 
and furious contests ; you enjoy the description ; and, to 
enable you to defend so great daring in the writers, pretend 
that these things are allegories, and contain the principles of 
natural science. 

34. But why do I complain that you have disregarded the 
insults 2 offered to the other deities ? That very Jupiter, 
whose name you should not have spoken without fear and 
trembling over your whole body, is described as confess- 
ing his faults when overcome by love 3 of his wife, and, 
hardened in shamelessness, making known, as if he were 
mad and ignorant, 4 the mistresses he preferred to his spouse, 
the concubines he preferred to his wife ; you say that those 
who have uttered so marvellous things, are chiefs and kings 
among poets endowed with godlike genius, that they are 
persons most holy ; and so utterly have you lost sight of your 
duty in the matters of religion which you bring forward, 
that words are of more importance, in your opinion, than 
the profaned majesty of the immortals. So then, if only 
you felt any fear of the gods, or believed with confident and 
unhesitating assurance that they existed at all, should you 
not, by bills, by popular votes, by fear of the senate's decrees, 
have hindered, prevented, [and] forbidden any one to speak 
at random of the gods otherwise than in a pious manner ? 5 
Nor have they obtained this honour even at your hands, that 
you should repel insults offered to them by the same laws by 

1 Coetu. The MS. and most edd. read coalitu, — a word not occurring 
elsewhere; which Gesner would explain, "put away that it may not 
be established among men," the sense being the same in either case. 

2 Lit., " complain of the neglected insults of the other gods." 

3 Lit., " as a lover by." Cf. Homer, II 14, 312. 

4 i.e. of himself. 

5 Lit., " exceDt that which was full of relmion." 


which you ward them off from yourselves. They are ac- 
cused of treason among you who have whispered any evil 
about your kings. To degrade a magistrate, or use insulting 
language to a senator, you have made by decree [a crime], 
followed by the severest punishment. To write a satirical 
poem, by which a slur is cast upon the reputation and 
character of another, you determined, by the decrees of the 
decemvirs, should not go unpunished ; and that no one 
might assail your ears with too wanton abuse, you estab- 
lished formulas 1 for severe affronts. "With you only the 
gods are unhonoured, contemptible, vile ; against whom you 
allow any one liberty to say what he will, to accuse them 
of the deeds of baseness which his lust has invented and 
devised. And [yet] you do not blush to raise against us the 
charge of want of regard for deities so infamous, although 
it is much better to disbelieve the existence of the gods than 
to think that they are such, and of such repute. 

35. But is it only poets whom you have thought proper 2 
to allow to invent unseemly tales about the gods, and to turn 
them shamefully into sport % What do your pantomimists, 
the actors, that crowd of mimics and adulterers? 3 Do they 4 
not abuse your gods to make to themselves gain, and [do not 
the others]' 3 find enticing pleasures in 6 the wrongs and insults 
offered to the gods? At the public, games, too, the colleges 
of all the priests and magistrates take their places, the chief 
Pontiffs, and the chief priests of the curia? ; the Quindecem- 
viri take their places, [crowned] with wreaths of laurel, and 
the flamines diales with their mitres ; the augurs take their 
places, who disclose the divine mind and will ; and the chaste 
maidens also, who cherish and guard the ever burning 
fire ; the whole people and the senate take their places ; the 

1 i.e. according to which such offences should be punished. 

2 Lit,, " have willed." 

3 Lit., " full-grown race," exoleti, a word frequently used, as here, 
sensu obscamo. 

4 i.e. the actors, etc. 

6 i.e. the crowd of adulterers, as Orclli suggests. 
6 Lit., " draw enticements of pleasures from." 


fathers who have done service as consuls, princes next to the 
gods, and most worthy of reverence ; and, shameful to say, 
Venus, the mother of the race of Mars, and parent of the 
imperial people, is represented by gestures as in love, 1 and is 
delineated with shameless mimicry as raving like a Bacchanal, 
with all the passions of a vile harlot. 2 The Great Mother, 
too, adorned with her sacred fillets, is represented by dancing ; 
and that Pessin untie Dindymene 3 is, to the dishonour of her 
age, represented as with shameful desire using passionate 
gestures in the embrace of a herdsman ; and also in the 
Trachinias of Sophocles, 4 that son of Jupiter, Hercules, en- 
tangled in the toils of a death-fraught garment, is exhibited 
uttering piteous cries, overcome by his violent suffering, and 
at last wasting away and being consumed, as his intestines 
soften and are dissolved. 5 But in [these] tales even the 
Supreme Ruler of the heavens himself is brought forward, 
without any reverence for his name and majesty, as acting 
the part of an adulterer, and changing his countenance for 
purposes of seduction, in order that he might by guile rob 
of their chastity matrons, who were the wives of others, 
and putting on the appearance of their husbands, by assum- 
ing the form of another. 

36. But this crime is not enough : the persons of the most 
sacred gods are mixed up with farces also, and scurrilous plays. 
And that the idle onlookers mav be excited to laughter and 
jollity, the deities are hit at in jocular quips, the spectators 
shout and rise up, the whole pit resounds with the clapping 
of hands and applause. And to the debauched scoffers 6 at 
the gods gifts and presents are ordained, ease, freedom from 
public burdens, exemption and relief, together with triumphal 

1 Or, " Venus, the mother . . . and loving parent," etc. 
? Lit., " of meretricious vileness." 

3 i.e. Cybele, to whom Mount Dindymus in Mysia was sacred, whose 
rites, however, were celebrated at Pessinus also, a very ancient city of 

4 MS. Sofocles, corrected in LB. SopJwcles. Cf. Trach. 1022 sqq. 

5 Lit., "towards (i?i) the last [of the] wasting consumed by the 
softening of his bowels flowing apart." 

6 Lit., "debauched and scoffers." 

218 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book iv. 

garlands, — a crime for which no amends can be made by any 
apologies. And after this do you dare to wonder whence these 
ills come with which the human race is deluged and over- 
whelmed without any interval, while you daily both repeat 
and learn by heart all these things, with which are mixed up 
libels upon the gods and slanderous sayings; and when 1 
you wish your inactive minds to be occupied with useless 
dreamings, demand that days be given to you, and exhibition 
made without any interval? But if you felt any real indig- 
nation on behalf of your religious beliefs, you should rather 
long ago have burned these writings, destroyed those books 
of yours, and overthrown these theatres, in which evil reports 
of your deities are daily made public in shameful tales. 
For why, indeed, have our writings deserved to be given to 
the flames ? our meetings to be cruelly broken up, 2 in which 
prayer is made to the Supreme God, peace and pardon are 
asked for all in authority, for soldiers, kings, friends, enemies, 
for those still in life, and those freed from the bondage of 
the flesh ; 3 in which all that is said is such as to make [men] 
humane, 4 gentle, modest, virtuous, chaste, generous in dealing 

1 So Orelli, reading et quando; MS. and other edd. et si — "and if 

2 Arnobius is generally thought to refer here to the persecution under 
Diocletian mentioned by Eusebius, Hist. Eccl. viii. 2. 

3 The service in which these prayers were offered was presided over 
by the bishop, to whom the dead body was brought : hymns were then 
sung of thanksgiving to God, the giver of victory, by whose help and 
grace the departed brother had been victorious. The priest next gave 
thanks to God, and some chapters of the Scriptures were read ; after- 
wards the catechumens were dismissed ; the names of those at rest were 
then read in a clear voice, to remind the survivors of the success with 
which others had combated the temptations of the world. The priest 
again prayed for the departed, at the close beseeching God to grant 
him pardon, and admission among the undying. Thereafter the body 
was kissed, anointed, and buried. — (Dionysius, Eccl. Hier., last chapter 
quoted by Heraldus. Cf. Const. Apost. viii. 41.) With the church's 
advance in power there was an accession of pomp to these rites. 

4 Cf. the younger Pliny, Epist. x. 97: "They affirmed that they 
bound themselves by oath not for any wicked purpose, but to pledge 
themselves not to commit theft, robbery, or adultery, nor break faith, 
or prove false to a trust." 


with their substance, and inseparably united to all embraced 
in our brotherhood % 1 

37. But this is the state of the case, that as you are ex- 
ceedingly strong in war and in military power, you think you 
excel in knowledge of the truth also, and are pious before 
the gods, 2 whose might you have been the first to besmirch 
with foul imaginings. Here, if your fierceness allows, and 
madness suffers, we ask you to answer us this : Whether you 
think that anger finds a place in the divine nature, or that 
the divine blessedness is far removed from such passions ? 
For if they are subject to passions so furious, 3 and are excited 
by feelings of rage as your imaginings suggest (for you say 
that they have often shaken the earth with their roaring, 4 
and bringing woful misery on men, corrupted with pestilen- 
tial contagion the character of the times, 5 both because their 
games had been celebrated with too little care, and because 
their priests were not received with favour, and because some 
small spaces were desecrated, and because their rites were 
not duly performed), it must consequently be understood 
that they feel no little wrath on account of the opinions 
which have been mentioned. But if, as follows of necessity, 
it is admitted that all these miseries with which men have 
long been overwhelmed flow from such fictions, if the anger 
of the deities is excited by these causes, you are the occasion 
of so terrible misfortunes, because you never cease to jar 
upon the feelings of the gods, and excite them to a fierce 
desire for vengeance. But if, on the other hand, the gods 
are not subject to such passions, and do not know at all 
what it is to be enraged, then indeed there is no ground for 
saying that they who know not what anger is are angry 
with us, and they are free from its presence? and the dis- 

1 Lit., " whom [our] society joins together," quos solidet germanitas. 

2 i.e. in their sight or estimation. 3 Lit., " conceive these torches." 

4 Lit., " have roared with tremblings of the earth." 

5 The MS. reads conru-isse auras temporum, all except the first four 
edd. inserting p as above. Meursius would also change temp, into ven- 
torum — " the breezes of the winds." 

6 So the MS., reading comptu — tie, according to Hild., followed by 
LB. and Orelli. 


order 1 [it causes]. For it cannot be, in the nature of tilings, 
that ivhat is one should become two ; and that unity, ivhich is 
naturally uncompounded, should divide and go apart into sepa- 
rate tilings? 

1 Lit., "mixture." 

2 The words in italics are bracketed in LB. as spurious or corrupt, or 
at least as here out of place. Orelli transposes them to ch. 13, as was 
noticed there, although he regards them as an interpolation. The clause 
is certainly a very strange one, and has a kind of affected abstractness, 
which makes it seem out of place ; but it must be remembered that simi- 
larly confused and perplexing sentences are by no means rare in Arno- 
bius. If the clause is to be retained, as good sense can be made from it 
here as anywhere else. The general meaning would be : The gods, if 
angry, are angry with the pagans; but if they are not subject to passion, 
it would be idle to speak of them as angry with the Christians, seeing 
that they cannot possibly at once be incapable of feeling anger, and yet 
at the same time be angry with them. 



It might be said that these charges were founded by Arnobius on the 
writings of poets and actions of stage-players, and that the heathen 
generally could not therefore be held guilty. Such a defence, however, 
would not avail those who in their histories and religious rites were not 
less impious and insulting to the deities. Arnobius proceeds, therefore, 
to narrate the story, told by Antias, of Jupiter's being tricked by 
Numa (1), and criticises it minutely, showing the manifest absurdity 
and impiety of representing man as overcoming and deluding the gods 
(2-4). He next relates from Timotheus the origin of Acdestis (5) ; the 
base and degrading expedients which the gods were compelled to adopt 
in order that they might rid themselves of his audacity ; and the extra- 
ordinary birth (6) and death of Attis, and institution of the rites of the 
Great Mother in memory of him (7). This story also is criticised at 
great length, its absurdity, indecency, and silliness being brought pro- 
minently forward (8-14) ; while it is pointed out that the truth or 
falsehood of the story is of no consequence to the argument, as all that 
Arnobius wishes to prove is, that any deities which exist are more 
grossly insulted by their own worshippers than by Christians (15). But, 
he says, how can you maintain that this story is false, when the cere- 
monies you are ever observing always refer to the events of which it 
speaks (16, 17) ? 

Neglecting many similar stories as too numerous to be related, he 
merely mentions Fenta Fauna, the birth of Servius Tullius (18), the 
Omophagia, rites of Yenus, Corybantia, and the Bacchanalia which 
relate the dismembering of Bacchus (19). The story is next related of 
Jupiter's amours with Ceres as a bull, and with Proserpine as a serpent 
(20, 21), in which, Arnobius says, it might be thought that it was 
wished to make Jupiter an embodiment of all the vices (22) ; and then 
notes, with bitter irony, how the Supreme Ruler is belittled by their 
trivial and degrading tales (23). Passing now to the other deities, 
Arnobius narrates the wanderings of Ceres, and the origin, in conse- 
quence, of the Thesmophoria and Eleusinia (24-27). So, too, the 
obscene Alimontia are shown to have an origin as shameful (28) ; and 
Arnobius indignantly asks, whether such a tale does not strike at the 
foundation of all morality ? and whether Christians are to be forced, by 
fear of torment and death, to worship such deities (29), for disbelief in 
whom he cannot but wonder that men are called atheists ? (30). Since, 


222 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

then, it is the heathen who so insult their own deities, the wrath of the 
gods must be against their worshippers, not against Christians (31). 

The suggestion that these stories are allegories (32) he scouts as 
utterly absurd, pointing out the impossibility of finding any meaning in 
some parts of the fables, insisting that as every detail is not allegorical, 
no part can be, and supposing that he thus shows that these must be 
accounts of actual events (33-39). If, however, these tales are alle- 
gories, do they not, Arnobius asks, do the gods wrong by imputing to 
them as crimes what are merely natural phenomena (40) ? that is, do 
they not turn into obscenity that which is pure and honourable in itself, 
while allegory is rather used to hide under a cloak of decency what is 
indecent (41) ? There is but one other pretext, that the gods them- 
selves would have their mysteries made allegories, not choosing that they 
should be generally understood. But how was this ascertained? and 
why would they not allow the truth to be told, against which no objec- 
tion could be taken, preferring indecent and shameful allegory (42)? 
These explanations, then, are merely attempts to get rid of difficulties 
(43) ; attempts, too, which could not be very successful, for many 
shameful tales do not admit of explanation as allegories (44). What 
remarkable modesty is this, to blush at the mention of bread and wine, 
and to say fearlessly Venus for a shameful act ! (45.) 

DMITTING that all these things which do 
the immortal gods dishonour, have been put 
forth by poets merely in sport, what [are we 
to say of] those found in grave, serious, and 
careful histories, and handed down by you in hidden mys- 
teries? have they been invented by the licentious fancy 
of the poets'? Now if they seemed 1 to you stories of 
such absurdity, some of them you would neither retain in 
their constant use, nor celebrate as solemn festivals from 
year to year, nor would you maintain them among your 
sacred rites as shadows of real events. With strict modera- 
tion, I shall adduce only one of these stories which are so 
numerous; that in which Jupiter himself is brought on the 
stage as stupid and inconsiderate, being tricked by the ambi- 
guity of words. In the second book of Antias — lest any one 
should think, perchance, that we are fabricating charges 
calumniously — the following story is written : The famous 
king Numa, not knowing how to avert evil portended by 
thunder, and being eager to learn, by advice of Egeria con- 
1 So most edd., inserting er; in MS. and Oehler, vid-entur. 


cealed beside a fountain twelve chaste youths provided with 
chains ; so that when Faunus and Martius x Picus came to 
this place 2 to drink (for hither they were wont to come 3 to 
draw w T ater), they might rush on them, seize and bind them. 
But, that this might be done more speedily, the king filled 
many 4 cnps with wine and with mead, 5 and placed them 
about the approaches to the fountain, where they w r ould be 
seen — a crafty snare for those who should come. They, as 
was their usual custom, when overcome by thirst, came to 
their well-known haunts. But when they had perceived cups 
with sweetly smelling liquors, they preferred the new to the 
old ; rushed eagerly upon them ; charmed with the sweetness 
of the draught, drank too much ; and becoming drunk, fell 
fast asleep. Then the twelve [youths] threw themselves 
upon the sleepers, [and] cast chains round them, lying soaked 
with wine ; and they, 6 when roused, immediately taught the 
king by what methods and sacrifices Jupiter could be called 
down to earth. With this knowledge the king performed 
the sacred ceremony on the Aventine, drew down Jupiter to 
the earth, and asked from him the due form of expiation. 
Jupiter having long hesitated, said, Tlwu shalt avert what is 
portended by thunder with a head. 1 The king answered, With 
an onion. 8 Jupiter again, With a mans. The king returned, 
But ivith hair? The deity in turn, With the life. 10 With a 

1 So named either because lie was said to have made use of the bird 
of Mars, i.e. a woodpecker (picus), in augury, or because according to 
the legend he was changed into one by Circe. 

2 i.e. the Aventine. The story is told by Plutarch in his Life of Numa, 
c. 15, and by Ovid, Fasti, iii. 291 sqq. 

3 The MS. reads, sollemniter lisec, corrected, as above, solenne iter line by 
all edd. except Hild. 

4 So the MS. and most edd., reading pocula non parvi numeri, for which 
Elm. and Orelli have received from the margin of Ursinus, poc. non parva 
mero — " cups of great size, with pure wine." 

5 i.e. mulsum. 6 j e< Faunus and Picus. 
7 Capite. 8 Csepitio. 

9 Jupiter is supposed to say liumano, meaning capite, to be understood, 
i.e. " with a man's head," while the king supplies capUlo—" with a man's 

10 Anima (ms. Ua). 

224 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

fish, 1 rejoined Pompillus. Then Jupiter, being ensnared by 
the ambiguous terms used, uttered these words : Thou hast 
overreached me, Numa ; for I had determined that evils por- 
tended by thunder should be averted with [sacrifices of] human 
heads, not 2 with hair [and] an onion. Since, however, your 
craft has outwitted me, have the mode which you wished ; and 
always undertake the expiation of thunder-portents with those 
things which you have bargained for. 

2. What the mind should take up first, what last, or what 
it should pass by silently, it is not easy to say, nor is it made 
clear by any amount of reflection ; for all have been so 
devised and fitted to be laughed at, that you should strive 
that they may be believed to be false — even if they are true 
— rather than pass current as true, and suggest as it were 
something extraordinary, and bring contempt upon deity 
itself. What, then, do you say, O you — ? Are we to believe 3 
that that Faunus and Martius Picus (if they are of the 
number of the gods, and of that everlasting and immortal 
substance) were once parched with thirst, and sought the 
gushing fountains, that they might be able to cool with 
water their heated veins'? Are we to believe that, ensnared 
by wine, and beguiled by the sweetness of mead, they dipped 
so long into the treacherous cups, that they even got into 
danger of becoming drunk ? Are we to believe that, being 
fast asleep, and plunged in the forgetfulness of most profound 
slumbers, they gave to creatures of earth an opportunity to 
bind them ? On what parts, then, were those bonds and 
chains flung? Did they have any solid substance, or had 
their hands been formed of hard bones, so that it might be 
possible to bind them with halters and hold them fast by 
tightly drawn knots ? For I do not ask, I do not inquire 

1 Mcena. There is here a lacuna in the text ; but there can be no 
difficulty in filling it up as above, with Heraldus from Plutarch, or with 
Gelenius from Ovid, f>iscis — " [with the life] of a fish." 

2 The MS. and both Roman edd. read Numa, corrected by Gelenius, as 
above, non. 

3 The MS. and edd. read cred-i-musne — " do we believe," for which 
Meursius suggests -e- as above. 


whether they could have said anything when swaying to and 
fro in their drunken maunderings ; or whether, while Jupiter 
was unwilling, or rather unwitting, any one could have made 
known the way to bring him down to earth. This only do I 
wish to hear, why, if Faunus and Picus are of divine origin 
and power, they did not rather themselves declare to Numa, 
as he questioned them, that which he desired to learn from 
Jove himself at a greater risk ? Or x did Jupiter alone have 
knowledge of this — for from him the thunderbolts fall — how 
training in some kind of knowledge should avert impending 
dangers ? Or, while he himself hurls these fiery bolts, is it 
the business of others to know in what way it is fitting to 
allay his wrath and indignation? For truly it would be 
most absurd to suppose that he himself appoints 2 the means 
by which may be averted that which he has determined 
should befall men throuo;h the hurling of his thunderbolts. 
For this is to say, By such ceremonies you will turn aside my 
w T rath ; and if I shall at any time have foreshown by flashes 
of lioditnino; that some evil is close at hand, do this and 
that, so that 3 what I have determined should be done may 
be done altogether in vain, and may pass away idly through 
the force 4 of these rites. 

3. But let us admit that, as is said, Jupiter has himself 
appointed against himself ways and means by which his own 
declared purposes might fittingly be opposed : are we also to 
believe that a deity of so great majesty was dragged down to 
earth, and, standing on a petty hillock with a mannikin, entered 
into a wrangling dispute f And what, I ask, was the charm 
which forced Jupiter to leave the all-important 5 direction of 
the universe, and appear at the bidding of mortals ? the 
sacrificial meal, incense, blood, the scent of burning laurel- 

1 Lit., " or whether." Below the MS. reads corruptly ad ipsum — " to 

2 The MS. reads scire, but " knows" would hardly suit the context. 
Instead of adopting any conjecture, however, it is sufficient to observe, 
with Oehler, that scire is elsewhere used as a contraction for sciscere. 

3 The MS. omits ut. 

4 So Cujacius, inserting vi, omitted by the MS. 

5 Lit., "so great." 


226 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

boughs, 1 and muttering of spells 1 And were all these more 
powerful than Jupiter, so that they compelled him to do 
unwillingly what was enjoined, or to give himself up of his 
own accord to their crafty tricks 1 What ! will what follows 
be believed, that the son of Saturn had so little foresight, 
that he either proposed terms by the ambiguity of which he 
was himself ensnared, or did not know what was going to 
happen, how the craft and cunning of a mortal would over- 
reach him ? You shall make expiation, he says, with a head 
when thunderbolts have fallen. The phrase is still incomplete, 
and the meaning is not fully expressed, and defined ; for it 
was necessarily right to know whether Diespiter ordains 
that this expiation be effected with the head of a wether, a 
sow, an ox, or any other animal. Now, as he had not yet 
fixed this specifically, and his decision was still uncertain 
and not yet determined, how could Numa know that Jupiter 
would say the head of a man, so as to 2 anticipate [and] pre- 
vent [him], and turn his uncertain and ambiguous words 3 
into u an onion's head ? " 

4. But you will perhaps say that the king was a diviner. 
Could he be more so than Jupiter himself? But for a 
mortal's anticipating 4 what Jupiter (whom 5 he overreached) 
was going to say, could the god not know in what ways a 
man was preparing to overreach him ? Is it not, then, clear 
and manifest that these are puerile and fanciful inventions, by 
which, while a lively wit is assigned 6 to Numa, the greatest 
want of foresight is imputed to Jupiter ? For what shows 
so little foresight as to confess that you have been ensnared 
by the subtlety of a man's intellect, and while you are vexed 
at being deceived, to give way to the wishes of him who has 
overcome you, and to lay aside the means which you had 

1 Lit., "the fumigation of verhenx" i.e. of boughs of the laurel, olive, 
or myrtle. 

2 The MS. omits ut. 

3 Lit., " the uncertain [things] of that ambiguity." 

4 Lit, " unless a mortal anticipated" — praesumeret, the MS. reading. 

5 So Oehler, supplying quern. 

6 Lit., " liveliness of heart is procured." 


proposed ? For if there was reason and some natural fitness 
that * expiatory sacrifice for that which was struck with light- 
ning should have been made with a man's head, I do not see 
why the proposal of an onion's was made by the king ; but if 
it could be performed with an onion also, there was a greedy 
lust for human blood. And both parts are made to contradict 
themselves : so that, on the one hand, Numa is shown not 
to have wished to know what he did wish ; and, on the other, 
Jupiter is shown to have been merciless, because he said that 
he wished expiation to be made with the heads of men, which 
could have been done by Numa with an onion's head. 

5. In Timotheus, who was no mean mythologist, and also 
in others equally well informed, the birth of the Great 
Mother of the gods, and the origin of her rites, are thus de- 
tailed, being derived (as he himself writes and suggests) from 
learned books of antiquities, and from [his acquaintance with] 
the most secret mysteries : — Within the confines of Phrygia, 
he says, there is a rock of unheard-of wildness in every re- 
spect, the name of which is Agdus, so named by the natives 
of that district. Stones taken from it, as Themis by her 
oracle 2 had enjoined, Deucalion and Pyrrha threw upon the 
earth, at that time emptied of men ; from which this Great 
Mother, too, as she is called, was fashioned along with the 
others, and animated by the Deity. Her, given over to rest 
and sleep on the very summit of the rock, Jupiter assailed 
with lewdest 3 desires. But when, after long strife, he could 
not accomplish what he had proposed to himself, he, baffled, 
spent his lust on the stone. This the rock received, and with 
many groanings Acdestis 4 is born in the tenth month, being 
named from his mother rock. In him there had been resist- 
less might, and a fierceness of disposition beyond control, a lust 

1 Lit., " why." 

2 So Ovid also (Metam. i. 321), and others, speak of Themis as the first 
to give oracular responses. 

3 So the MS. and edd., reading quam incestis, except Orelli, who adopts 
the conjecture of Barthius, nequam — " lustful Jupiter with lewd desires." 

4 So the MS. and edd., except Hildebrand and Oehler, who throughout 
spell Agdestis, following the Greek writers, and the derivation of the 
word from Agdus. 

228 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

made furious, and [derived] from botli sexes. 1 He violently 
plundered and laid waste ; he scattered destruction wherever 
the ferocity of his disposition had led him ; he regarded not 
gods or men, nor did he think anything more powerful than 
himself ; he contemned earth, heaven, and the stars. 

6. Now, when it had been often considered in the councils 
of the gods, by what means it might be possible either to 
weaken or to curb his audacity, Liber, the rest hanging back, 
takes upon himself this task. With the strongest wine he 
drugs a spring much resorted to by Acdestis, 2 where he had 
been wont to assuage the heat and burning thirst 3 roused [m 
him] by sport and hunting. Hither runs Acdestis to drink 
when he felt the need ; 4 he gulps down the draught too 
greedily into his gaping veins. Overcome by what he is 
quite unaccustomed to, he is in consequence sent fast asleep. 
Liber is near the snare [which he had set] ; over his foot he 
throws one end of a halter 5 formed of hairs, woven together 
very skilfully ; with the other end he lays hold of his privy 
members. When the fumes of the wine passed off, Acdestis 
starts up furiously, and his foot dragging the noose, by his 
own strength he robs himself of his 6 sex; with the tearing 
asunder of [these] parts there is an immense flow of blood ; 
both 7 are carried off and swallowed up by the earth ; from 
them there suddenly springs up, covered with fruit, a pome- 
granate tree, seeing the beauty of which, with admiration, 
Nana, 8 daughter of the king or river Sangarius, gathers and 
places in her bosom [some of the fruit]. By this she becomes 

1 So Ursinus suggested, followed by later edd., ex utroque (MS. utra.) 
sexu ; for which Meursius would read ex utroque sexus — "and a sex of 
both," i.e. that he was a hermaphrodite, which is related by other writers. 

2 Lit., " him." 3 Lit., " of thirsting." 4 Lit., " in time of need." 

5 So the reading of the MS. and edd., unum laqueum, may be rendered ; 
for which Canterus conjectured imum — "the lowest part of the noose." 

6 So the edd., reading eo quo (MS. quod) f iter at privat sexu ; for which 
Hild. and Oehler Te&dfu-tu-erat — " of the sex with which he had been a 

7 Lit, " these (i.e. the parts and the blood) are," etc. 

8 The MS. here reads Nata, but in c. 13 the spelling is Nana, as in other 


pregnant ; her father shuts her up, supposing that she had 
been 1 debauched, and seeks to have her starved to death; 
she is kept alive by the mother of the gods with apples, and 
other food, 2 [and] brings forth a child, but Sangarius 3 orders 
it to be exposed. One Phorbas having found the child, takes 
it home, 4 brings it up on goats' milk ; and as handsome 
fellows are so named in Lydia, or because the Phrygians in 
their own way of speaking call their goats attagi, it happened 
in consequence that [the boy] obtained the name Attis. Him 
the mother of the gods loved exceedingly, because he was of 
most surpassing beauty; and Acdestis, [who was] his com- 
panion, as he grew up fondling him, and bound [to him] by 
wicked compliance with his lust in the only way now possible, 
leading him through the wooded glades, and presenting him 
with the spoils of many wild beasts, which the boy Attis at 
first said boastfully were won by his own toil and labour. 
Afterwards, under the influence of wine, he admits that he 
is both loved by Acdestis, and honoured by him with the 
gifts brought from the forest ; whence it is unlawful for those 
polluted by [drinking] wine to enter into his sanctuary, be- 
cause it discovered his secret. 6 

7. Then Midas, king of Pessinus, wishing to withdraw the 
youth from so disgraceful an intimacy, resolves to give him 
his own daughter in marriage, and caused the [gates of the] 
town to be closed, that no one of evil omen might disturb 
their marriage joys. But the mother of the gods, knowing 
the fate of the youth, and that he would live among men in 
safety [only] so long as he was free from the ties of marriage, 
that no disaster might occur, enters the closed city, raising its 

1 Lit., " as if." 

2 The ms. reads t-abulis, corrected as above/)- by Jos. Scaliger, followed 
by Hild. and Oehler. The other edd. read baccidis — "berries." 

3 So all the edd., except Hild. and Oehler, who retain the MS. reading 
sanguinarius — " bloodthirsty." 

4 So Salmasius, Orelli, and Hild., reading repertum nescio quis sumit 
PJioruas, lacie ; but no mention of any Phorbas is made elsewhere in con- 
nection with this story, and Oehler has therefore proposed for ma ac lacie 
— " some one takes [the child] found, nourishes it with sweet pottage of 
millet {forma) and milk," etc. 5 Lit., M his silence." 

230 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

walls with her head, which began to be crowned with towers 
in consequence. Acdestis, bursting with rage because of the 
boy's being torn from himself, and brought to seek a wife, 
fills all the guests with frenzied madness : * the Phrygians 
shriek aloud, panic-stricken at the appearance of the gods ; 2 
a dauirhter of adulterous 3 Gallus cuts off her breasts ; Attis 
snatciies the pipe borne by him who was goading them to 
frenzy ; and he, too, now filled with furious passion, raving 
franticly [and] tossed about, throws himself down at last, 
and under a pine tree mutilates himself, saying, Take these* 
Acdestis, for which you have stirred up so great and terribly 
perilous commotions. 5 With the streaming blood his life flies ; 
but the Great Mother of the gods gathers the parts which had 
been cut off, and throws earth on them, having first covered 
them, and wrapped 6 them in the garment of the dead. From 
the blood which had flowed springs a flower, the violet, and 
with 7 this the tree 8 is girt. Thence the custom began and 
arose, whereby you even now veil and wreath with flowers the 
sacred pine. The virgin who had been the bride (whose name, 
as Valerius 9 the pontifex relates, w r as la) veils the breast of 
the lifeless [youth] with soft wool, sheds tears with Acdestis, 
and slays herself. After her death her blood is changed 

1 Lit., " fury and madness." 

2 The MS., first five edd., and Oberthiir, read exterriti adorandorum 
Phryges ; for which Ursinus suggested ad or a deorum — " at the faces of 
gods," adopted by Oehler ; the other edd. reading ad horam — " at the 
hour, i.e. thereupon." 

3 It seems probable that part of this chapter has been lost, as we 
have no explanation of this epithet ; and, moreover (as Oehler has well 
remarked), in c. 13 this Gallus is spoken of as though it had been pre- 
viously mentioned that he too had mutilated himself, of which we have 
not the slightest hint. 

4 i.e. genitalia. 5 Lit., " so great motions of furious hazards." 

6 So most edd., reading veste prius tectis atque involute for the MS. 
reading, retained by Hild. and Oehler, tecta atque involuta — "his vest 
being fir.-t drawn over and wrapt about them ; " the former verb being 
found with this meaning in no other passage, and the second very rarely. 

7 Lit., " from." 8 i.e. the pine. 

9 Nourry supposes that this may refer to M. Valerius Messala, a frag- 
ment from whom on auspices has been preserved by Gellius (xiii. 15) ; 
while Hild. thinks that .Antias is meant, who is mentioned in c. 1. 


into purple violets. The mother of the gods shed tears also, 1 
from which springs an almond tree, signifying the bitterness 
of death. 2 Then she bears away to her cave the pine tree, 
beneath which Attis had unmanned himself ; and Acdestis 
joining in her wailings, she beats and wounds her breast, 
[pacing] round the trunk of the tree now at rest. 3 Jupiter 
is begged by Acdestis that Attis may be restored to life : he 
does not permit it. What, however, fate allowed, 4 he readily 
grants, that his body should not decay, that his hairs should 
always grow, that the least of his fingers should live, and 
should be kept ever in motion ; content with which favours, 
[it is said] that Acdestis consecrated the body in Pessinus, 
[and] honoured it with yearly rites and priestly services. 5 

8. If some one, despising the deities, and furious with a 
savagely sacrilegious spirit, had set himself to blaspheme your 
gods, would he dare to say against them anything more severe 
than this tale relates, which you have reduced to form, as 
though [it were] some wonderful narrative, and have honoured 
without ceasing, 6 lest the power of time and the remoteness 7 of 
antiquity should cause it to be forgotten ? For what is there 
asserted in it, or what written about the gods, which, if said 
with regard to a man brought up with bad habits and a pretty 
rough training, would not make you liable to be accused of 
wronging and insulting him, and expose you to hatred and 

1 So Orelli punctuates and explains ; but it is doubtful whether, even 
if this reading be retained, it should not be translated, " bedewed these 
[violets]." The MS. reads, suffodit et as (probably has) — " digs under 
these," emended as above in LB., suffudit et has. 

2 Lit., "burial." 

3 So it has been attempted to render the MS., reading pausatse circum 
arboris robur, which has perplexed the different edd. Heraldus proposed 
pausate — "at intervals round the trunk of the tree;" LB. reads -ata 
— "round . . . tree having rested." Reading as above, the reference 
might be either to the rest from motion after being set up in the cave, 
or to the absence of wind there. 

4 Lit., " could be done through (i.e. as far as concerns) fate." 

5 So Oehler, reading sacerdotum antistitiis for the MS. antl-stibus, changed 
in both Roman edd. and Hild. to -stitibus — " with priests (or overseers) 
of priests." Salmasius proposed intestibus—" with castrated priests." 

6 i.e. in the ever recurring festival of Cybele. 7 Lit., " length." 

232 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

dislike, accompanied by implacable resentment? From the 
stones, you say, which Deucalion and Pyrrha threw, was 
produced the mother of the gods. What do you say, O 
theologians? what, ye priests of the heavenly powers ? Did 
the mother of the gods, then, not exist at all for the sake of 
the deluge ? and would there be no cause or beginning of her 
birth, had not violent storms of rain swept away the whole 
race of men ? It is through man, then, that she feels herself 
to exist, and she owes it to Pyrrha' s kindness that she sees 
herself addressed as a real being ; l but if that is indeed true, 
this too will of necessity not be false, that she was human, 
not divine. For if it is certain that men are sprung origin- 
ally from the casting of stones, it must be believed that she 
too was one of us, since she was produced by means of the 
same causes. For it cannot be, for nature would not suffer 
it, 2 that from one kind of stones, and from the same mode of 
throwing [them], some should be formed to rank among the 
immortals, others with the condition of men. Varro, that 
famous Roman, distinguished by the diversity of his learning, 
and unwearied in his researches into ancient times, in the 
first of four books which he has left in writing on the race of 
the Roman people, shows by careful calculations, that from, 
the time of the deluge, which we mentioned before, down to 
the consulship of Hirtius and Pansa,' 3 there are not quite two 
thousand years ; and if he is to be believed, the Great Mother, 
too, must be said to have her whole life bounded by the 
limits of this number. And thus the matter is brought to this 
issue, that she who is said to be parent of all the deities is 
not their mother, but their daughter ; nay, rather a [mere] 
child, a little girl, since we admit that in the never-ending 
series of ages neither beginning nor end has been ascribed to 
the gods. 

9. But why do we speak of your having bemired the great 
mother of the gods with the filth of earth, when you have not 

1 So the edd., reading orariin alicujus substantia qnalitate for the MS. 
erari restored by Oehler, num-erari — " numbered in the quality of some 
substance," from the reading of an old copy adopted by Livineius. 

2 Lit., " through the resistance of nature." a B.C. 43. 


been able for but a little time even to keep from speaking evil 
of Jupiter himself ! While the mother of the gods was then 
sleeping on the highest peak of Agdus, her son, you say, 
tried stealthily to surprise her chastity while she slept. 
After robbing of their chastity virgins and matrons without 
number, did Jupiter hope to gratify his detestable passion 
upon his mother? and could he not be turned from his 
fierce desire by the horror which nature itself has excited 
not only in men, but in some [other] animals also, and by 
common * feeling ! Was he then regardless of piety 2 and 
honour, who is chief in the temples ? and could he neither 
reconsider nor perceive how wicked was his desire, his mind 
being madly agitated ? But, as it is, forgetting his majesty 
and dignity, he crept forward to steal those vile pleasures, 
trembling and quaking with fear, holding his breath, walk- 
ing in terror on tiptoe, and, between hope and fear, touched 
her secret parts, trying how soundly his mother slept, and 
what she would suffer. 3 Ob, shameful representation ! oh, 
disgraceful plight of Jupiter, prepared to attempt a filthy 
contest \ Did the ruler of the world, then, turn to force, 
when, in his heedlessness and haste, he was prevented from 
stealing on by surprise; 4 and when he was unable to snatch 
his pleasure by cunning craft, did he assail his mother with 
violence, and begin without any concealment to destroy the 
chastity which he should have revered? Then, having striven 
for a very long time when she is unwilling, did he go off 
conquered, vanquished, and overcome ? and did his spent 
lust part him whom piety was unable to hold back from 
execrable lust after his mother? 

10. But you will perhaps say the human race shuns and 
execrates such unions; 5 among the gods there is no incest. 

1 Lit., " the feeling commonly implanted." 

2 Lit., "was regard of piety wanting" — defuit, an emendation of 
Salmasius (according to Orelli) for the MS. depuit. 

3 Lit., " the depth and patience of his sleeping mother." 

4 Lit., " from the theft of taking by surprise " — obreptionis, for which 
the MS., first four edd., Oberth., Hild., and Oehler read object. — " of what 
he proposed." 

5 So Heraldus, reading conventionis liujasmodi coztum for the MS. cceptum. 

234 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

And why, [then,] did his mother resist with the greatest vehe- 
mence her son when he offered her violence ? Why did she 
flee from his embraces, as if she were avoiding unlawful 
approaches ? For if there was nothing wrong in so doing, 
she should have gratified him without any reluctance, just 
as he eagerly wished to satisfy the cravings of his lust. And 
here, indeed, very thrifty men, and frugal even about shame- 
ful works, that that sacred seed may not seem to have been 
poured forth in vain — the rock, one says, drank up Jupiter's 
foul incontinence. What followed next, I ask? Tell. In the 
very heart of the rock, and in that flinty hardness, a child -vyas 
formed and quickened to be the offspring of great Jupiter. It 
is not easy to object to conceptions so unnatural and so won- 
derful. For as the human race is said by you to have sprung 
and proceeded from stones, it must be believed that the stones 
both had genital parts, and drank in the seed cast on them, and 
wdien their time was full were pregnant, 1 and at last brought 
forth, travailing in distress as women do. That impels our 
curiosity to inquire, since you say that the birth occurred 
after ten months, in what womb of the rock was he enclosed 
at that time? with what food, with what juices, was he sup- 
plied ? or what could he have drawn to support him from the 
hard stone, as unborn infants usually [receive] from their 
mothers? He had not yet reached the light, [my informant] 
says ; and already bellowing and imitating his father's thun- 
derings, he reproduced [their sound]. 2 And after it was given 
him to see the sky and the light of day, attacking all things 
which lay in his way, he made havoc of them, and assured 
himself that he was able to thrust down from heaven the 
gods themselves. O cautious and foreseeing mother of the 
gods, who, that she might not undergo the ill-will of so 3 arro- 
gant a son, or that his bellowing while still unborn might 
not disturb her slumbers or break her repose, withdrew her- 
self, and sent far from her that most hurtful seed, and gave 
it to the rough rock. 

1 Sustulisse alvos graves. 2 Most edd. read as an interrogation. 

3 Perhaps, "that she might not be subject to ill-will for having borne 
so. M 


11. There was doubt in the councils of the gods how that 
unyielding and fierce violence was to be subdued ; and when 
there was no other way, they had recourse to one means, 
that he should be soaked with much wine, and bereft of his 
members, by their being cut off. As if, indeed, those who 
have suffered the loss of these parts become less arrogant, 
and [as if] we do not daily see those who have cut them 
away from themselves become more wanton, and, neglecting 
all the restraints of chastity and modesty, throw themselves 
headlong into filthy vileness, making known abroad their 
shameful deeds. I should like, however, to see — were it 
granted me to be born at those times — father Liber, who 
overcame the fierceness of Acdestis, having glided down from 
the peaks of heaven after the very venerable meetings of the 
gods, cropping the tails of horses, 1 plaiting pliant halters, 
drugging the waters harmless while pure with much strong 
wine, and after that drunkenness sprung from drinking, to 
have carefully introduced his hands, handled the members of 
the sleeper, and directed his care skilfully 2 to the parts which 
were to perish, so that the hold of the nooses placed round 
[them] might surround them all. . 

12. Would any one say this about the gods who had even a 
very low opinion of them ? or, if they were taken up with such 
affairs, considerations, cares, would any man of wisdom either 
believe that they are gods, or reckon them among men even % 
Was that Acdestis, pray, the lopping off of whose lewd mem- 
bers was to give a sense of security to the immortals, [was 
he] one of the creatures of earth, or one of the gods, and 
possessed of 3 immortality ? For if he was thought [to be] 
of our lot and in the condition of men, why did he cause 
the deities so much terror ? But if he was a god, how could 
he be deceived, or [how] could anything be cut off from a 

1 i.e. to form nooses with. The reading translated is an emendation 
of Jos. Scaliger, adopted by Orelli, peniculamenta decurtantem cantJieri- 
orum, for the MS. peniculantem decurtam tarn cantherios, emended by each 
ed. as he has thought fit. 

2 Lit., "the cares of art." 

3 Lit., " endowed with the honour of." 

236 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

divine body? 1 But we raise no issue on this point : he may 
have been of divine birth, or one of us, if you think it more 
correct to say so. Did a pomegranate tree, also, spring from 
the blood which flowed and from the parts which were cut 
off ? or at the time when 2 that member was concealed in the 
bosom of the earth, did it lay hold of the ground with a root, 
and spring up into a mighty tree, put forth branches loaded 
with blossoms, 3 and in a moment bare mellow fruit perfectly 
and completely ripe ? And because these sprang from red 
blood, is their colour therefore bright purple, with a dash 
of yellow? Say further that they are juicy also, that they 
have the taste of wine, because they spring from the blood 
of one filled with it, and you have finished your story consis- 
tently. O Abdera, Abdera, what occasions for mocking [you 
would give 4 ] to men, if such a tale had been devised by you! 
All fathers relate it, and haughty states peruse it; and you 
are considered foolish, and utterly dull and stupid. 

13. Through her bosom, we are told, 5 Nana conceived a 
son by an apple. The opinion is self-consistent; for where 
rocks and hard stones bring forth, there apples must have 
their time of generating. 6 The Berecyntian goddess fed the 
imprisoned maiden with nuts 7 and figs, fitly and rightly; for 
it was right that she should live on apples who had been 
made a mother by an apple. After her offspring was born, 
it was ordered by Sangarius to be cast far away : that which 
lie believed to be divinely conceived long before, he would 
not have 8 called the offspring of his child. The infant was 
brought up on he-goats' milk. O story ever opposed and 
most inimical to the male sex, in which not only do men lay 
aside their virile powers, but beasts even which were males 

1 The MS. here inserts de — " from tlie body from a divine [being]." 

2 So the edd. (except Oehler), reading turn cum for the MS. turn qux quod. 

3 Balaustiis, the flowers of the wild pomegranate. 

4 Dares supplied by Salmasius. 5 Lit., " he says." 

c Lit., "must rut" — suriant, as deer. The MS., first four edd., and Elm. 
read surgant — " rise," corrected as above in the margin of Ursinus. 

7 Lit., "acorns" — glandibus. 

8 The MS. reads des-, emended as above ded-ignatus by Stewechius, 
followed by Heraldus and Orelli. 


become mothers! 1 He was famous for his beauty, and dis- 
tinguished by his remarkable 2 comeliness. It is wonderful 
enough that the noisome stench of goats did not cause him 
to be avoided and fled from. The Great Mother loved him — 
if as a grandmother her grandson, there is nothing wrong ; 
but if as the theatres tell, her love is infamous and disgrace- 
ful. Acdestis, too, loved him above all, enriching him with a 
hunter's gifts. There could be no danger to his purity from 
one emasculated, [you say] ; but is it not easy to guess what 
Midas dreaded? The Mother entered bearing 3 the very 
walls. Here we wondered, indeed, at the might and strength 
of the deity; but again 4 we blame her carelessness, because 
when she remembered the decree of fate, 5 she heedlessly laid 
open the city to its enemies. Acdestis excites to fury and 
madness those celebrating the nuptial vows. If King Midas 
had displeased [him] who was binding the youth to a wife, 
of what had Gallus been guilty, and his concubine's daughter, 
that he should rob himself of his manhood, she herself of 
her breasts f Take and keep these, says he, 6 because of which 
you have excited such commotions to the overwhelming of [our] 
minds with fear. We should none of us yet know what the 
frenzied Acdestis had desired in his paramour's body, had 
not the boy thrown to him, to appease his wrath, 7 the parts 
cut off. 

14. What say you, O races and nations, given up to such 
beliefs ? When these things are brought forward, are you 
not ashamed and confounded to say things so indecent? 
We wish to hear or learn from you something befitting the 
gods ; but \ou, on the contrary, bring forward to us the 
cutting off of breasts, the lopping off of men's members, 

3 i.e. lie-goats are made to yield milk. 

2 Lit., " praiseworthy." 3 Lit., " with." 

4 So the MS., both Eoman edd., LB., Hild., andOehler, reading rarsus, 
for which the others receive the emendation of Gelenius, regis — "the 
king's carelessness." 

5 Lit., " the law and fate." 6 i.e. Attis. 

7 The MS. reads satietati-s ohjecisset offensi, corrected as above by Hild. 
(omitting s), followed by Oehler. The conjectures of previous edd. are 
very harsh and forced. 

238 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

ragings, blood, frenzies, the self-destruction of maidens, and 
flowers and trees begotten from the blood of the dead. Say, 
again, did the mother of the gods, then, with careful dili- 
gence herself gather in her grief the scattered genitals with 
the shed blood ? * With her own sacred, her own divine 2 
hands, did she touch and lift up the instruments of a dis- 
graceful and indecent office ? Did she also commit them to 
the earth to be hid from sight ; and lest in this case they 
should, being uncovered, be dispersed in the bosom of the 
earth, did she indeed wash and anoint them with fragrant 
gums before wrapping and covering them with his dress? 
For whence could the violet's sweet scent have come had not 
the addition of those ointments modified the putrefying smell 
of the member ? Pray, when you read such tales, do you 
not seem to yourselves to hear either girls at the loom wiling 
away their tedious working hours, or old women seeking 
diversions for credulous children, and to be declaring mani- 
fold fictions under the guise of truth? Acdestis appealed to 3 
Jupiter to restore life to his paramour : Jupiter would not 
consent, because he was hindered by the fates more power- 
ful [than himself] ; and that he might not be in every 
respect very hard-hearted, he granted one favour — that the 
body should not decay through any corruption ; that the hair 
should always grow ; that the least of his fingers alone in his 
body should live, alone keep always in motion. Would any 
one grant this, or support it with an unhesitating assent, that 
hair grows on a dead body, — that part 4 perished, and that 
the [rest of his] mortal body, free from the law of corrup- 
tion, remains even still? 

15. We might long ago have urged you to ponder this, were 
it not foolish to ask proofs of such things, as well as to say 6 
them. But this story is false, and is -wholly untrue. It is 

!Lit., "flows." 

2 Lit., " herself with sacred, herself with divine." 

3 Lit., "spoke with." 

4 i.e. the part cut off and buried separately. 

5 So the MS., according to Crusius, the edd. inserting s, di-s-cere — 
11 to learn." 


no matter to us, indeed, because of whom you maintain that 
the cods have been driven from the earth, whether it is con- 
sistent and rests on a sure foundation, 1 or is, on the con- 
trary, framed and devised in utter falsehood. For to us it is 
enough — who have proposed this day to make it plain — that 
those deities whom you bring forward, if they are anywhere 
on earth, and glow with the fires of anger, are not more 
excited to furious hatred by us than by you ; and that that 
[story] has been classed as an event and committed to 
writing by you, and is willingly read over by you every day, 
and handed down in order for the edifying of later times. 
Now, if this [story] is indeed true, we see that there is no 
reason in it why the celestial gods should be asserted to be 
angry with us, since we have neither declared things so much 
to their disgrace, nor committed them to writing at all, nor 
brought them publicly to light 2 by the celebration of sacred 
rites ; but if, as you think, it is untrue, and made up of 
delusive falsehoods, no man can doubt that you are the cause 
of offence, who have either allowed certain persons to write 
such stories, or have suffered [them], when written, to abide 
in the memory of ages. 

16. And yet how can you assert the falsehood of this story, 
when the very rites which you celebrate throughout the year 
testify that you believe [these things] to be true, and consider 
them perfectly trustworthy? For what is the meaning of 
that pine 3 which on fixed days you always bring into the 
sanctuary of the mother of the gods ! Is it not in imitation 
of that tree, beneath which the raging and ill-fated youth 
laid hands upon himself, and [which] the parent of the gods 
consecrated to relieve her sorrow ! 4 What mean the fleeces 
of wool with which you bind and surround the trunk of the 

1 Lit., "on firmness of faith." 

2 Lit., " sent to public testifying." 

3 The festival of Cybele began on the 22d of March, when a pine tree 
was introduced into the mysteries, and continued until the 27th, which 
was marked by a general purification (lavatto), as Salmasius observed 
from a calendar of Constantine the Great. 

4 Lit., " for solace of so great a wound." 

240 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

tree ? Is it not to recall the wools with which la 1 covered 
the dying [youth], and thought that she could procure some 
warmth for his limbs [fast] stiffening with cold ? What 
[mean] the branches of the tree girt round and decked with 
w r reaths of violets ? Do they not mark this, how the Mother 
adorned with early flowers the pine which indicates and bears 
witness to the sad mishap ? What [mean] the Galli 2 with 
dishevelled hair beating their breasts with their palms ? Do 
they not recall to memory those lamentations with which the 
tower -bearing Mother, along with the weeping Acdestis, 
wailing aloud, 3 followed the boy? What [means] the ab- 
stinence from eating bread which you have named caslus ? 
Is it not in imitation of the time when the goddess abstained 
from Ceres' fruit in her vehement sorrow ? 

17. Or if the things which we say are not so, declare, say 
yourselves — those effeminate and delicate [men] whom we see 
among you in the sacred rites of this deity — what business, 
[what] care, [what] concern have they there ; and why do 
they like mourners wound their arms and 4 breasts, and act 
as those dolefully circumstanced ? What [mean] the wreaths, 
what the violets, what the swathings, the coverings of soft 
wools ? Why, finally, is the very pine, but a little before 
swaying to and fro among the shrubs, an utterly inert log, 
set up in the temple of the mother of the gods next, like some 
propitious and very venerable deity ? For either this is the 
cause which we have found in your writings and treatises, 
and [in that case] it is clear that you do not celebrate divine 
rites, but give a representation of sad events ; or if there is 
any other reason which the darkness of the mystery has with- 

1 So Stewechius, followed by Orelli and Oehler, reading quibus la for 
the MS. jam, which would refer the action to Cybele, whereas Arnobius 
expressly says (c. 7) that it was the newly wedded wife who covered 
the breast of Attis with wools. Jam is, however, received from the MS. 
by the other edd., except Hild., who asserts that the MS. reads lam, and 
Elmenh., who reads Ion. 

2 i.e. priests of Cybele, their name being derived from the Phrygian 
river Gallus, whose waters were supposed to bring on frenzy ending in 
self -mutilation. 

3 Lit., " with wailing." * Lit., " with." 


held from us, even it also must be involved in the infamy of 
some shameful deed. For who would believe that there is 
any honour in that which the worthless Galli begin, effeminate 
debauchees complete ? 

18. The greatness of the subject, and our duty to those on 
their defence also, 1 demand that we should in like manner 
hunt up the other forms of baseness, whether those which 
the histories of antiquity record, or those contained in the 
sacred mysteries named initial and not divulged 3 openly to 
all, but to the silence of a few ; but your innumerable sacred 
rites, and the loathsomeness of them all, 4 will not allow us to 
go through them all bodily : nay, more, to tell the truth, we 
turn aside ourselves from some purposely and intentionally, 
lest, in striving to unfold all things, we should be defiled 
by contamination in the very exposition. Let us pass by 
Fauna 5 Fatua, therefore, who is called Bona Dea, whom 
Sextus Clodius, in his sixth book in Greek on the gods, de- 
clares to have been scourged to death with rods of myrtle, 
because she drank a whole jar of wine without her husband's 
knowledge ; and this is a proof, that when women show her 
divine honour a jar of wine is placed [there, but] covered 
from sight, and that it is not lawful to bring in twigs of 
myrtle, as Butas 6 mentions in his Causalia. But let us pass 
by with similar neglect 7 the dii conserentes, whom Flaccus 
and others relate to have buried themselves, changed in 
humani penis similitudinem in the cinders under a pot of 
exta? And when Tanaquil, skilled in the arts of Etruria, 9 
disturbed these, the gods erected themselves, and became 
rigid. She then commanded a captive woman from Corni- 

1 Lit., "and the duty of defence itself." 

2 i.e. secret rites, to which only the initiated were admitted. 

3 Lit., " which yon deliver" — traditis; so Elinenh., LB., and latter ecld., 
for the unintelligible MS. tradidisse, retained in both Roman edd. 

4 Lit, " deformity affixed to all." 5 MS. fetamf. Cf. i. 36, n. 1. 

6 So Heraldus, from Plutarch, Rom. 21, where Butas is said to have 
written on this subject («/t/«i) in elegiacs, for the MS. Putas. 

7 Lit., " in like manner and with dissimulation." 

8 i.e. heart, lungs, and liver, probably of a sacrifice. 

9 i.e. " divination, augury," etc. 


242 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

culum to learn and understand what was the meaning of 
this : Ocrisia, a woman of the greatest wisdom divos inseruisse 
genital^ explicuisse motus certos. Then the holy and burning 
deities poured forth the power of Lucilius, 1 and [thus] Servius 
king of Rome was born. 

19. We shall pass by the wild Bacchanalia also, which are 
named in Greek Omophagia, in which with seeming frenzy 
and the loss of your senses you twine snakes about you; 
and, to show yourselves full of the divinity and majesty of 
the god, tear in pieces with gory mouths the flesh of loudly- 
bleating goats. Those hidden mysteries of Cyprian Venus 
we pass by also, whose founder is said to have been King 
Cinyras, 2 in which being initiated, they bring stated fees as to 
a harlot, and carry away phalli, given as signs of the pro- 
pitious deity. Let the rites of the Corybantes also be con- 
signed to oblivion, in which is revealed that sacred mystery, 
a brother slain by his brothers, parsley sprung from the blood 
of the murdered one, that vegetable forbidden to be placed 
on tables, lest the manes of the dead should be unappeasably 
offended. But those other Bacchanalia also we refuse to pro- 
claim, in which there is revealed and taught to the initiated 
a secret not to be spoken ; how Liber, when taken up with 
boyish sports, was torn asunder by the Titans ; how he was 
cut up limb by limb by them also, and thrown into pots 
that he might be cooked ; how Jupiter, allured by the sweet 
savour, rushed unbidden to the meal, and discovering what 
had been done, overwhelmed the revellers with his terrible 
thunder, and hurled them to the lowest part of Tartarus. 
As evidence and proof of which, the Thracian [bard] handed 
down in his poems the dice, mirror, tops, hoops, and smooth 
balls, and golden apples taken from the virgin Hesperides. 

20. It was our purpose to leave unnoticed those mysteries 
also into which Phrygia is initiated, and all that 3 race, were 
it not that the name of Jupiter, [which has been] introduced 
by them, would not suffer us to pass cursorily by the wrongs 

1 Vis Lucilii, i.e. semen. 2 Cf. iv. 24. 

3 So the MS. and edd., reading gens ilia, for which Mernmius proposed 
Ilia — " and all the Trojan race." 


and insults offered to him ; not that we feel any pleasure in 
discussing x mysteries so filthy, but that it may be made clear 
to you again and again what wrong you heap upon those 
whose guardians, champions, worshippers, you profess to be. 
Once upon a time, they say, Diespiter, burning after his 
mother Ceres with evil passions and forbidden desires (for 
she is said by the natives of that district [to be] Jupiter's 
mother), and yet not daring to seek by open 2 force that for 
which he had conceived a shameless longing, hits upon a 
clever trick by which to rob of her chastity his mother, who 
feared nothing of the sort. Instead of a god, he becomes a 
bull ; and concealing his purpose and daring under the appear- 
ance of a beast lying in wait, 3 he rushes madly with sudden 
violence upon her, thoughtless and unwitting, obtains his in- 
cestuous desires ; and the fraud being disclosed by his lust, 
flies off known and discovered. His mother burns, foams, 
gasps, boils with fury and indignation ; and being unable to 
repress the storm 4 and tempest of her wrath, received the 
name Brimo 5 thereafter from her ever-raging passion : nor 
has she any other wish than to punish as she may her son's 

21. Jupiter is troubled enough, being overwhelmed with 
fear, and cannot find means to soothe the rage of his violated 
[mother]. He pours forth prayers, and makes supplication ; 
her ears are closed by grief. The whole order of the gods 
is sent [to seek his pardon] ; no one has weight enough to 
win a hearing. At last, the son seeking how to make satis- 
faction, devises this means : Arietem nobilem bene grandibus 
cam testiculis deligit, exsecat 7ios ipse et lanato exuit ex folliculi 
tegmine. Approaching his mother sadly and with downcast 
looks, and as if by his own decision he had condemned himself, 
he casts and throws these 6 into her bosom. When she saw 
what his pledge was, 7 she is somewhat softened, and allows 

1 Lit., " riding upon " — inequitare. 2 Lit., " most open." 

3 Subsessoris. 4 Lit., " growling "—fremitum. 

5 The MS. reads pri?no, emended as above by the brother of Canterus, 
followed by later edd. 

6 i.e. testiculi. 7 Virilitate pignoris visa. 

214 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

herself to be recalled to the care of the offspring which she 
had conceived. 1 After the tenth month she bears a daughter, 
of beautiful form, whom later ages have called now Libera, 
now Proserpine ; whom when Jupiter Verveceus 2 saw to be 
strong, plump, and blooming, forgetting what evils and what 
wickedness, and how great recklessness, he had a little before 
fallen into, 3 he returns to his former practices ; and because 
it seemed too 4 wicked that a father openly be joined as in 
marriage with his daughter, he passes into the terrible form 
of a dragon : he winds his hu£e coils round the terrified 
maiden, and under a fierce appearance sports and caresses 
[her] in softest embraces. She, too, is in consequence filled 
with the seed of the most powerful Jupiter, but not as her 
mother [was], for she 6 bore a daughter like herself ; but from 
the maiden was born something like a bull, to testify to her 
seduction by Jupiter. If any one asks G who narrates this, 
then we shall quote the well-known senarian verse of a 
Tarentine poet which antiquity sings, 7 saying : The bull begot 
a dragon, and the dragon a bull. Lastly, the sacred rites them- 
selves, and the ceremony of initiation even, named Sebadia, s 
might attest the truth ; for in them a golden snake is let down 
into the bosom of the initiated, and taken away again from 
the lower parts. 

1 So Ursinus suggested, followed by Stewechius and later edd., con- 
ccpti foetus revocatur ad cur am; the MS. reads concepit — "is softened 
and conceived," etc. 

2 Jupiter may be here called Verveceus, cither as an epithet of Jupiter 
Amnion — " like a wether," or (and this seems most probable from the 
context), " dealing with wethers," referring to the mode in which he had 
extricated himself from his former dilliculty, or "stupid." The MS. 
reads virviriccus. 

3 Lit., " encountered '" — aggressus. 4 Lit., "sufficiently." 

5 i.e. Ceres. 6 Lit., " will any one want." 

7 i.e. handed down by antiquity. 

8 These seem to have been celebrated in honour of Dionysius as well 
as Zeus, though, in so far as they are described by Arnobius, they refer 
to the intrigue of the latter only. Macrobius, however (Saturn, i. 18), 
mentions that in Thrace, Liber and Sol were identified and worshipped 
as Sebadius ; and this suggests that we have to take but one more step 
to explain the use of the title to Jupiter also. 


22. I do not think it necessary here also with many words 
to go through each part, and show how many base and un- 
seemly things there are in each particular. For what mortal 
is there, with but little sense even of what becomes a man, 
who does not himself see clearly the character of all these 
tilings, how wicked [they are], how vile, and what disgrace 
is brought upon the gods by the very ceremonies of their 
mysteries, and by the unseemly origin of their rites? 
Jupiter, it is said, lusted after Ceres. Why, I ask, has 
Jupiter deserved so ill of you, that there is no kind of 
disgrace, no infamous adultery, which you do not heap upon 
his head, as if on some vile and worthless person ! Leda 
was unfaithful to her nuptial vow ; Jupiter is said to be the 
cause of the fault. Danae could not keep her virginity ; the 
theft is said [to have been] Jupiter's. Europa hastened to 
the name of woman; he is again declared [to have been] 
the assailant of her chastity. Alcmena, Electra, Latona, 
Laodamia, a thousand other virgins, and a thousand matrons, 
and with them the boy Catamitus, were robbed of their 
honour and 1 chastity. It is the same story everywhere — 
Jupiter. Nor is there any kind of baseness in which you do 
not join and associate his name with passionate lusts ; so that 
the wretched being seems to have been born for no other 
reason at all except that he might be a field fertile in 2 crimes, 
an occasion of evil-speaking, a kind of open place into which 
should gather all filthiness from the impurities of the stage. 5 
And yet if you were to say that he had intercourse with 
strange women, it would indeed be impious, but the wrono- 
done in slandering him might be bearable. [But] did he 
lust 4 after his mother also, after his daughter too, with 
furious desires; and could no sacredness in his parent, no 

1 Lit., "of." 

2 Lit., " that he might be a crop of"— seges, a correction in the margin 
of Ursinus for the MS. sedes — " a seat." 

3 So all edd., reading scenarum (ms. scr-, but r marked as spurious), 
except LB., followed by Orelli, who gives sentinarum — "of the dregs." 
Ohler supplies c, which the sense seems to require. 

4 Lit., "neigh with appetites of an enraged breast." 

246 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

reverence for her, [no] shrinking even from the child which 
had sprung from himself, withhold him from conceiving so 
detestable a plan ? 

23. I should wish, therefore, to see Jupiter, the father of 
the gods, who ever controls the world and men, 1 adorned 
with the horns of an ox, shaking his hairy ears, with his feet 
contracted into hoofs, chewing green grass, and [having] be- 
hind him 2 a tail, hams, 3 and ankles smeared over with soft 
excrement, 4 and bedaubed with the filth cast forth. I should 
wish, I say (for it must be said over and over again), to see 
him who turns the stars [in their courses], and who terrifies 
and overthrows nations pale with fear, pursuing the flocks of 
wethers, inspicientem testiculos arelinos, snatching these away 
with that severe 5 and divine hand with which he was wont 
to launch the gleaming lightnings and to hurl in his rage 
the thunderbolt. 6 Then, indeed, [I should like to see him] 
ransacking their inmost parts with glowing knife ; 7 and all 
witnesses being removed, tearing away the membranes cir- 
cumjectas prolibus, and bringing them to his mother, still hot 
with rage, as a kind of fillet 8 to draw forth her pity, with 
downcast countenance, pale, w T ounded, 9 pretending to be in 
agony ; and to make this believed, defiled with the blood of 
the ram, and covering his pretended wound with bands of 
wool and linen. [Is it possible] that this can be heard and 
read in this world, 10 and that those who discuss these things 
wish themselves to be thought pious, holy, and defenders of 
religion? Is there any greater sacrilege than this, or can 

1 This clearly refers to the JEneid, x. 18. 

2 Lit., " on the rear part." 3 Svffragines. 

4 So the margin of Ursinus, Elmenh., LB., Oberth., Orelli, and Oehler, 
reading mollijimo for the MS. molissimo. 

5 Lit., "censorial." 6 Lit., " rage with thunders." 

7 So Gelenius, followed by Stewechius and Orelli, reading smila for 
the corrupt and unintelligible MS. nullas. 

8 Infiilse, besides being worn by the priest, adorned the victim, and 
were borne by the suppliant. Perhaps a combination of the two last 
ideas is meant to be suggested here. 

9 i.e. seemingly so. 

10 Lit., " under this axis of the world." 


any mind 1 be found so imbued with impious ideas as to be- 
lieve such stories, or receive them, or hand them down in the 
most secret mysteries of the sacred rites ! If that Jupiter 
[of whom you speak], whoever he is, really 2 existed, or 
was affected by any sense of wrong, would it not be fitting 
that, 3 roused to anger, he should remove the earth from 
under our feet, extinguish the light of the sun and moon ; 
nay more, that he should throw all things into one mass, as 
of old? 4 

24. But, [my opponent] says, these are not the rites of 
our state. Who, pray, says this, or who repeats it ? [Is he] 
Koman, Gaul, Spaniard, African, German, or Sicilian t And 
what does it avail your cause if these stories are not yours, 
while those who compose them are on your side f Or of what 
importance is it whether you approve of them or not, since 
what you yourselves say 5 are found to be either just as foul, 
or of even greater baseness ! For do you wish that we should 
consider the mysteries and those ceremonies which are named 
by the Greeks Thesmophoria, 6 in which those holy vigils and 
solemn watchings were consecrated [to the goddess] by the 
Athenians ? Do you wish us, I say, to see what beginnings 
they have, what causes, that we may prove that Athens 

1 So the MS., followed by Hild. and Oehler ; the other edd. reading 
gens for mens. 

2 Lit., " felt himself to be." 

3 Lit., " would the thing not be worthy that angry and roused." 

4 i.e. reduce to chaos, in which one thing would not be distinguished 
from another, but all be mixed up confusedly. 

5 Lit., " what are your proper things." 

6 Every one since Salmasius (ad Solinum, p. 750) has supposed Arno- 
bius to have here fallen into a gross error, by confounding the Eleusinian 
mysteries with the Thesmophoria ; an error the less accountable, because 
they are carefully distinguished by Clemens Alexandrinus, whom Arno- 
bius evidently had before him, as usual. There seems to be no sufficient 
reason, however, for charging Arnobius with such a blunder, although 
in the end of eh. 26 he refers to the story just related, as showing the 
base character of the Eleusinia (Eleusiniorum vestrorum notas) ; as he 
here speaks of mysteria (i.e. Eleusinia, cf. Nepos, Ale. 3, 16) et ilia 
divina qux Thesmophoria nominantur a Grsecis. It should be re- 
membered also that there was much in common between these mys- 

248 TEE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

itself also, distinguished in the arts and pursuits of civilisa- 
tion, says things as insulting to the gods as others, and that 
stories are there publicly related under the mask of religion 
just as disgraceful as are thrown in [our] way by the rest of 
you? Once, they say, when Proserpine, not yet a woman 
and still a maiden, was gathering purple flowers in the 
meadows of Sicily, and when her eagerness to gather them 
was leading her hither and thither in all directions, the king 
of the shades, springing forth through an opening of unknown 
deptli, seizes and bears away with him the maiden, and con- 
ceals himself again in the bowels l of the earth. Now when 
Ceres did not know what had happened, and had no idea 
where in the world her daughter was, she set herself to seek 
the lost one all over the 2 world. She snatches up two 
torches lit at the fires of JEtna; 8 and giving herself light by 
means of these, goes on her quest in all parts of the earth. 

25. In her wanderings on that quest, she readies the 
confines of Eleusis as well as other countries 4 — that is the 
name of a canton in Attica. At that time these parts were 
inhabited by aborigines 5 named Baubo, Triptolemus, Eubu- 
leus, Eumolpus, 6 Dysaules : Triptolemus, who yoked oxen ; 

teries : the story of Ceres' wanderings was the subject of both ; in 
both there was a season of fasting to recall her sadness ; both had 
indecent allusions to the way in which that sadness was dispelled ; and 
both celebrated with some freedom the recovery of cheerfulness by the 
goddess, the great distinguishing feature of the Thesmophoria being that 
only women could take part in its rites. Now, as it is to the poiuts in 
which the two sets of mysteries were at one that allusion is made in the 
passage which follows, it was only natural that Arnobius should not be 
very careful to distinguish the one from the other, seeing that he was 
concerned not with their differences, but with their coincidence. It seems 
difficult, therefore, to maintain that Arnobius has here convicted him- 
self of so utter ignorance and so gross carelessness as his critics have 

1 Lit., " caverns." 2 Lit., " in the whole." 

3 The MS. is utterly corrupt — flammis onere pressas etneis, corrected a3 
above by Gelenius from c. 35, f. compreliensas. — ^El. 

4 Lit., " also." B Lit., " [they were] earth-born who inhabited." 
6 The MS. wants this name; but it has evidently been omitted by acci- 
dent, as it occurs in the next line. 


Dysaules, a keeper of goats ; Eubuleus, of swine ; Eumolpus, 
of sheep, 1 from whom also flows the race of Eumolpidse, and 
[from whom] is derived that name famous among the Athe- 
nians, 2 and those who afterwards flourished as caduceatores? 
hierophants, and criers. So, then, that Baubo who, we have 
said, dwelt in the canton of Eleusis, receives hospitably 
Ceres, worn out with ills of many kinds, hangs about her 
with pleasing attentions, beseeches her not to neglect to re- 
fresh her body, brings to quench her thirst wine thickened 
with spelt, 4 which the Greeks term cyceon. The goddess in 
her sorrow turns away from the kindly offered services, 5 and 
rejects [them]; nor does her misfortune suffer her to remem- 
ber what the body always requires. 6 Baubo, on the other 
hand, begs and exhorts her — as is usual in such calamities — 
not to despise her humanity ; Ceres remains utterly immove- 
able, and tenaciously maintains an invincible austerity. But 
when this was done several times, and her fixed purpose 
could not be worn out by any attentions, Baubo chancres her 
plans, and determines to make merry by strange jests her 
whom she could not win by earnestness. That part of the 
body by which women both bear children and obtain the 
name of mothers, 7 this she frees from longer neglect : she 
makes it assume a purer appearance, and become smooth 
like a child, not yet hard and rough with hair. In this wise 
she returns 8 to the sorrowing goddess ; and while trying the 
common expedients by which it is usual to break the force of 
grief, and moderate it, she uncovers herself, and baring her 

1 Lit., " of woolly flock." 2 Cecropios et qui. 

3 i.e. staff-bearers. 

4 Cinnus, the chief ingredients, according to Hesyehius (quoted by 
Oeliler), being wine, honey, water, and spelt or barley. 

5 Lit., "offices of humanity." 

G Lit,, " common health." Arnobius is here utterly forgetful of Ceres' 
divinity, and subjects her to the invariable requirements of nature, from 
which the divine might be supposed to be exempt, 

7 So the conjecture of Livmeius, adopted by Oehler, gent-t-ricum for 
the MS. genericum. 

8 So Stewechius, followed by Oehler, reading redit ita for the US. red- 
itu ; the other edd. merely drop a. 

250 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

groins, displays all the parts which decency hides; 1 and then 
the goddess fixes her eyes upon these, 2 and is pleased with 
the strange form of consolation. Then becoming more cheer- 
ful after laughing, she takes and drinks off the draught 
spurned [before], and the indecency of a shameless action 
forced that which Baubo's modest conduct was long unable 
to win. 

26. If any one perchance thinks that we are speaking 
wicked calumnies, let him take the books of the Thracian 
soothsayer, 3 which you speak of as of divine antiquity ; and 
he w T ill find that we are neither cunningly inventing any- 
thing, nor seeking means to bring the holiness of the gods 
into ridicule, and doing so : for we shall bring forward the 
very verses which the son of Calliope uttered in Greek, 4 and 
published abroad in his songs to the human race throughout 
all ages : 

" With these words she at the same time drew up her garments from 
the lowest [hem], 
And exposed to view formatas wguinihus res, 
Which Baubo grasping 5 with hollow hand, for 
Their appearance was infantile, strikes, touches gently. 
Then the goddess, fixing her orbs of august light, 
Being softened, lays aside for a little the sadness of her mind ; 
Thereafter she takes the cup in her hand, and laughing, 
Drinks off the whole draught of cyceon with gladness." G 

1 Omnia ilia pudoris loca. 2 Piibi. 

3 Orpheus, under whose name there was current in the time of 
Arnobius an immense mass of literature freely used, and it is probable 
sometimes supplemented, by Christian writers. Cf. c. 19. 

4 Lit., " put forth with Greek mouth." 5 Lit,, " tossing." 

6 It may be w T ell to observe that Arnobius differs from the Greek ver- 
sions of these lines found in Clem. Alex. (Pi-otrept. p. 17) and Eusebius 
(Prcepar. Evang. ii. 3), omitting all mention of Iacchus, who is made 
very prominent by them ; and that he does not adhere strictly to 
metrical rules, probably, as Heraldus pointed out, because, like the poets 
of that age, he paid little heed to questions of quantity. Whether 
Arnobius has merely paraphrased the original as found in Clement and 
Eusebius, or had a different version of them before him, is a question 
which can only be discussed by means of a careful comparison between 
the Greek and Latin forms of the verses with the context in both cases. 


What say you, O wise sons of Erectheus ? * what, you citizens 
of Minerva ? 2 The mind is eap-er to know with what words 
you will defend what it is so dangerous to maintain, or what 
arts you have by which to give safety to personages and 
causes wounded so mortally. This 8 is no false mistrust, nor 
are you assailed with lying accusations : 4 the infamy of your 
Eleusinia is declared both by their base beginnings and by 
the records of ancient literature, by the very signs, in fine, 
which you use when questioned in receiving the sacred 
things, — / have fasted, and drunk the draught ; 5 I have taken 
out of the [mystic] cist, 6 and put into the wicker-basket ; I 
have received again, and transferred to the little chest. 

27. Are then your deities carried off by force, and do they 
seize by violence, as their holy and hidden mysteries relate ? 
do they enter into marriages sought stealthily and by fraud? 7 
is their honour snatched from virgins 8 resisting and unwill- 
ing ? have they no knowledge of impending injury, no ac- 
quaintance with what has happened to those carried off by 
force ? Are they, when lost, sought for as men are ? and do 
they traverse the earth's vast extent with lamps and torches 
when the sun is shining most brightly ? Are they afflicteol ? 
are they troubled ? do they assume the squalid garments of 
mourners, and the signs of misery? and that they may be able 
to turn their mind to victuals and the taking of food, is use 
made not of reason, not of the right time, not of some weighty 
words or pressing courtesy, but is a display made of the 
shameful and indecent parts of the body? and are those 
members exposed which the shame felt by all, and the natural 
law of modesty, bid us conceal, which it is not permissible to 

1 So LB., Hild., and Oehler, reading ErecJitliidx O (inserted by Hild.) 
for the MS. erithideo. 

2 i.e. Athenians. 

3 The ms., 1st ed., Hild., and Oehler read ita—" It is thus not," etc. ; 
the others as above, ista. 

4 Delatione calumniosa. 5 Cyceon. 

6 The ms. reads exci-la, corrected as above, ex cista, in the margin of 

7 Lit,, " by stealthy frauds." 

8 Lit., " is the honour of virginity snatched from them ?" 

252 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

name among pure ears without permission, and saying, " by 
your leave V 1 What, I ask you, "was there in such a sight, 2 
what in the privy parts of Baubo, to move to wonder and 
laughter a goddess of the same sex, and formed with similar 
parts? what was there such that, when presented to the 
divine eyes 3 and sight, it should at the same time enable her 
to forget her miseries, and bring her with sudden cheerfulness 
to a happier state of mind ? Oh, what have we had it in our 
power to bring forward with scoffing and jeering, were it not 
for respect for the reader, 4 and the dignity of literature ! 

28. I confess that I have long been hesitating, looking on 
every side, shuffling, doubling Tellene perplexities ; 5 while I 
am ashamed to mention those Alimontian 6 mysteries in which 
Greece erects phalli in honour of father Bacchus, and the 
whole district is covered with images of men's fascina. The 
meaning of this is obscure perhaps, and it is asked why it is 
done. Whoever is ignorant of this, let him learn, and, 
wondering at what is so important, ever keep it with reverent 
care in a pure heart. 7 While Liber, born at Nysa, s and son 
of Semele, was still among men, the story goes, he wished to 
become acquainted with the shades below, and to inquire into 
what went on in Tartarus; but this wish was hindered by some 
difficulties, because, from ignorance of the route, he did not 

1 Sine venid ac sine honoribus prxfaiis. 

2 So Stewechius, LB., and Orelli, reading spec-t-u in t-ali for the MS. 
in specu ali. 

s Lit, " light." 4 So the MS., Hild., and Oehler, reading nosccntis. 

5 This allusion is somewhat obscure. Heraldus regards tricas Tellenas 
as akin in sense to t. Atellanas, i.e. " comic trifles ; " in which case the 
sense would be, that Arnobius had been heaping up any trifles which 
would keep him back from the disagreeable subject. Ausonius Popma 
(quoted by Orelli) explains the phrase with reference to the capture of 
Tellense by Ancus Martius as meaning " something hard to get through." 

6 The MS. reads alimonise, corrected from Clem. Alex, by Salmasius, 
Alimontia, i.e. celebrated at Halimus in Attica. 

7 Lit., " in pure senses." 

8 Cicero (de Nat. Deor. iii. 23) speaks of five Dionysi, the father of 
the fifth being Nisus. Arnobius had this passage before him in writing 
the fourth book (cf. c. 15, and n. 2), so that he may here mean to speak 
of Liber similarly. 


know by what way to go and proceed. One Prosumnus starts 
up, a base lover of the god, and [a fellow] too prone to wicked 
lusts, who promises to point out the gate of Dis, and the ap- 
proaches to Acheron, if the god will gratify him, and suffer 
axorias voluptates ex se carpi. The god, without reluctance, 
swears to put himself * in his power and at his disposal, but 
[only] immediately on his return from the lower regions, 
having obtained his wish and desire. 2 Prosumnus politely 
tells him the way, and sets him on the very threshold of the 
lower regions. In the meantime, while Liber is inspecting 3 
and examining carefully Styx, Cerberus, the Furies, and all 
other things, the informer passed from the number of the 
living, and was buried according to the manner of men. 
Evius 4 comes up from the lower regions, and learns that his 
guide is dead. But that he might fulfil his promise, and 
free himself from the obligation of his oath, he goes to the 
place of the funeral, and ficorum ex arbore ramum validis- 
simum prwsecans dolat, rancinat, levigat et humani speciem 
fabricator in penis, figit super aggerem tumuli, et posticd ex 
parte nudatus accedit, subsidit, insidit. Lascivia deinde 
surientis assumptd, hue atque illuc dunes torquet et meditatur 
ab ligno pati quod jamdudum in veritate promiserat. 

29. Now, to prevent any one from thinking that we have 
devised what is so impious, we do not call upon him to 
believe Heraclitus as a witness, nor to receive from his 
account what he felt about such mysteries. Let him 5 ask 
the whole of Greece what is the meaning of these phalli 
which ancient custom erects and worships throughout the 
country, throughout the towns : he will find that the causes 
are those which we say ; or if they are ashamed to declare 
the truth honestly, of what avail will it be to obscure, to 
conceal the cause and origin of the rite, while 6 the accusa- 
tion holds good against the very act of worship ! What say 

3 Lit., "that he will be." 

2 So the MS., ace. to Hild., reading expe-titionis ; ace. to Crusius, the 
MS. gives -ditionis — "[having accomplished] his expedition." 

3 Lit., " is surveying with all careful examination." 

4 MS. cuius. 5 i.e. the sceptic. 6 Cum wanting in the MS. 

254 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

you, O peoples ? what, ye nations busied with the services of 
the temples, and given up [to them] ? Is it to these rites 
you drive us by flames, banishment, slaughter, and any 
other kind of punishments, and by fear of cruel torture ? 
Are these the gods whom you bring to us, whom you thrust 
and impose upon us, like whom you would neither wish your- 
selves to be, nor any one related to you by blood and friend- 
ship ? * Can you declare to your beardless sons, still wearing 
the dress of boys, the agreements which Liber formed with 
his lovers ? Can you urge your daughters-in-law, nay, even 
your own wives, to [show] the modesty of Baubo, and [enjoy] 
the chaste pleasures of Ceres? Do you wish your young 
men to know, hear, [and] learn what even Jupiter showed 
himself to more matrons than one ? Would you wish your 
grown-up maidens and still lusty fathers to learn how the same 
deity sported with his daughter ? Do you wish full brothers, 
already hot with passion, and sisters sprung from the same 
parents, to hear that he again did not spurn the embraces, 
the couch of his sister? Should we not then flee far from 
such gods; and should not our ears be stopped altogether, 
that the filthiness of so impure a religion may not creep into 
the mind? For what man is there who has been reared 
with morals so pure, that the example of the gods does 
not excite him to similar madness ? or who can keep back 
his desires from his kinsfolk, and those of whom he should 
stand in awe, when he sees that among the gods above 
nothing is held sacred in the confusion caused by 2 their 
lusts? For when it is certain that the first and perfect 
nature has not been able to restrain its passion within right 
limits, why should not man give himself up to his desires 
without distinction, being both borne on headlong by his 
innate frailty, and aided by the teaching of the holy deities? 3 

1 Lit., " by right of friendship." 2 Lit., " of." 

s Lit., " of holy divinity." Orelli thinks, and with reason, that 
Arnobius refers to the words which Terence puts into the mouth of 
Chaerea (Eun. iii. v. vv. 36-43), who encourages himself to give way 
to lust by asking, " Shall I, a man, not do this ? " when Jove had done 
as much. 


30. I confess that, in reflecting on such monstrous stories 
in my own mind, I have long been accustomed to wonder 
that you dare to speak of those as atheists, 1 impious, sacri- 
legious, who either deny that there are [any] gods at all, or 
doubt [their existence], or assert that they were men, and 
have been numbered among the gods for the sake of some 
power and good desert ; since, if a true examination be made, 
it is fitting that none should be called by such names, more 
than yourselves, who, under the pretence of showing them 
reverence, heap up in so doing 2 more abuse and accusation, 
than if you had conceived the idea of doing this openly with 
avowed abuse. He who doubts the existence of the gods, or 
denies it altogether, although he may seem to adopt monstrous 
opinions from the audacity of his conjectures, yet refuses to 
credit what is obscure without insulting any one; and he 
who asserts that they were mortals, although he brings them 
down from the exalted place of inhabitants of heaven, yet 
heaps upon them other 3 honours, since he supposes that they 
have been raised to the rank of the gods 4 for their services, 
and from admiration of their virtues. 

31. But you who assert that you are the defenders and 
propagators of their immortality, have you passed by, have you 
left untouched, any one of them, without assailing him 5 with 
your abuse ? or is there any kind of insult so damnable in the 
eyes of all, that you have been afraid to use it upon them, 
even though hindered 6 by the dignity of their name ? Who 
declared that the gods loved frail and mortal bodies ? [was it] 
not you ? Who that they perpetrated those most charming 
thefts on the couches of others ? [was it] not you ? Who 
that children had intercourse with their mothers ; [and] on 
the other hand, fathers with their virgin daughters ? [was it] 

1 Lit., " to speak of any one as atheist ... of those who," etc. 

2 So the ms. and edd., reading in eo, for which we should perhaps read 
in eos — "heap upon them." 

3 Subsicivis laudibus. 

4 Lit., " to the reward (rneritum) of divinity." 

5 Lit., "unwounded." 

6 So the edd., reading tardati for the MS. tradatis, except Hild., who 
reads tardatis. 

236 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

not you 1 Who that pretty boys, and even grown-up [men] 
of very fine appearance, were wrongfully lusted after ? [was 
it] not you? Who [declared that they 1 were] mutilated, 
debauched, 2 skilled in dissimulation, thieves, held in bonds 
and chains, finally assailed with thunderbolts, [and] wounded, 
that they died, [and] even found graves on earth ? [was it] 
not you ! While, then, so many and grievous charges have 
been raised by you to the injury of the gods, do you dare to 
assert that the gods have been displeased because of us, while 
it has long been clear that you are the guilty causes of such 
anger, and the occasion of the divine wrath 1 

32. But you err, says [my opponent], and are mistaken, 
and show, even in criticising [these] things, that you are 
rather ignorant, unlearned, and boorish. For all those 
stories which seem to you disgraceful, and tending to the 
discredit of the gods, contain in them holy mysteries, theories 
wonderful and profound, and not such as any one can easily 
become acquainted with by force of understanding. For 
that is not meant and said which has been written and placed 
on the surface of the story ; but all these things are under- 
stood in allegorical senses, and by means of secret explana- 
tions privately supplied. 3 Therefore he who says 4 Jupiter lay 
with his mother, does not mean the incestuous or shameful 
embraces of Venus, but names Jupiter instead of rain, and 
Ceres instead of the earth. And he, again, who says that 
he 5 dealt lasciviously with his daughter, speaks of no filthy 
pleasures, but puts Jupiter for the name of a shower, and by 
his daughter means 6 the crop sown. So, too, he who says 
that Proserpina was carried off by father Dis, does not 
say (as you suppose 7 ) that the maiden was carried off to 
[gratify] the basest desires ; but because we cover the seed 
with clods, he signifies that the goddess has sunk under the 

1 i.e. the gods. 2 Exoletos. Cf. iv. c. 35, n. 3. 

3 Subditivis secretis. 

4 Both Roman edd. and MS. read dicet — "shall say;" all others as 
above — dicit. 

5 i.e. Jupiter. c Lit., " in the signification of his daughter." 
7 So the margin of Ursinus — ut reris for the MS. ut ce-reris. 


earth, and unites with Orcus to bring forth fruit. In like 
manner in the other stories also one thing indeed is said, but 
something else is understood ; and under a commonplace 
openness of expression there lurks a secret doctrine, and a 
dark profundity of mystery. 

33. These are all quirks, as is evident, and quibbles with 
which they are wont to bolster up weak cases before a jury ; 
nay, rather, to speak more truly, they are pretences, such as 
are used in 1 sophistical reasonings, by which not the truth 
is sought after, but always the image, and appearance, and 
shadow of the truth. For because it is shameful and unbe- 
coming to receive as true the correct accounts, you have had 
recourse 2 to this expedient, that one thing should be substi- 
tuted for another, and that what was in itself shameful should, 
in being explained, be forced into the semblance of decency. 
But what is it to us whether other senses and other meanings 
underlie [these] vain stories? For we who assert that the 
gods are treated by you wickedly and impiously, need only 8 
receive what is written, what is said, 4 and need not care as to 
what is kept secret, since the insult to the deities consists not 
in the idea hidden in its meanings, 5 but in what is signified 
by the words as they stand out. And yet, that we may not 
seem unwilling to examine what you say, we ask this first of 
you, if only you will bear with us, from whom have you 
learned, or by whom has it been made known, either that 
these things were written allegorically, or that they should 
be understood in the same way ? Did the writers summon 
you to [take] counsel [with them] ? or did you lie hid in 
their bosoms at the time 6 when they put one thing for 
another, without regard to truth? Then, if they chose, from 

1 Lit., " colours of." 

2 The MS. and both Eoman edd. read indecorum est, which leaves the 
sentence incomplete. LB., followed by later edd., proposed decursum 
est, as above (Oehler, hide d. — "from these recourse has been had"), 
the other conjectures tending to the same meaning. 

3 " We need only ; " lit., " it is enough for us to." 

4 Lit., "heard." 

5 Lit., " in the obscure mind of senses." 

6 " Or at the time," aut turn, the correction of LB. for the MS. sutum. 

258 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

religious awe 1 and fear on any account, to wrap those 
mysteries in dark obscurity, what audacity it shows in you 
to wish to understand what they did not wish, to know your- 
selves and make all acquainted with that which they vainly 
attempted to conceal by words which did not suggest the truth! 

34. But, agreeing with you that in all these stories stags 
are spoken of instead of Iphigenias, yet, how are you sure, 
when you either explain or unfold these allegories, that you 
give the same explanations or have the same ideas which 
were entertained by the writers themselves in the silence of 
their thoughts, but expressed by words not adapted 2 to what 
was meant, but to something else ? You say that the falling 
of rain into the bosom of the earth was spoken of as the 
union of Jupiter and Ceres ; another may both devise with 
greater subtlety, and conjecture with some probability, some- 
thing else ; a third, a fourth may [do the same] ; and as the 
characteristics of the minds of the thinkers show themselves, 
so each thing may be explained in an infinite number of 
ways. For since all that allegory, as it is called, is taken 
from narratives expressly made obscure, 3 and has no certain 
limit within which the meaning of the story, 4 as it is called, 
should be firmly fixed and unchangeable, it is open to every 
one to put the meaning into it which he pleases, and to assert 
that that has been adopted 5 to which his thoughts and 
surmises 6 led him. But this being the case, how can you 
obtain certainty from what is doubtful, and attach one sense 
only to an expression which you see to be explained in in- 
numerable different ways ? 7 

35. Finally, if you think it right, returning to our inquiry, 
we ask this of you, whether you think that all stories about 
the gods, 8 that is, without any exception, 9 have been written 

1 Lit., " fear of any reason and of religion." 2 Lit., "proper." 

3 Lit., " from shut up things." 4 Rei. 5 Lit., " placed." 

6 Lit., "bis suspicion and conjectural (perhaps "probable") inference." 

7 Lit., "to be deduced with variety of expositions through numberless 

8 The MS., first four edd., and Hild. read de 7»s— " about these," cor- 
rected in the others dls or diis, as above. 

9 Lit., "each." 


throughout with a double meaning and sense, and in a way 1 
admitting of several interpretations; or that some parts of 
them are not ambiguous at all, [while], on the contrary, 
others have many meanings, and are enveloped in the veil of 
allegory which has been thrown round them 1 For if the 
whole structure and arrangement of the narrative have been 
surrounded with a veil of allegory from beginning to end, 
explain [to us], tell [us] what we should put and substitute 
for each thing which every story says, and to what other 
things and meanings we should refer 2 each. For as, to take 
an example, you wish Jupiter to be said instead of the rain, 
Ceres for the earth, and for Libera 3 and father Dis the sink- 
ing and casting of seed [into the earth], so you ought to say 
what we should understand for the bull, what for the wrath 
and anger of Ceres; what the word Brimo 4 means; what 
the anxious prayer of Jupiter ; what the gods sent to make 
intercession for him, but not listened to ; what the castrated 
ram ; what the parts 5 of the castrated ram ; what the satis- 
faction made with these ; what the further dealings with his 
daughter, still more unseemly in their lustfulness ; so, in the 
other story also, what the grove and flowers of Henna are ; 
what the fire taken from JEtna, and the torches lit with 
it ; what the travelling through the world with these ; what 
the Attic country, the canton of Eleusin, the hut of Baubo, 
and her rustic hospitality ; what the draught of cyceon 
means, the refusal of it, the shaving and disclosure of the 
privy parts, the shameful charm of the sight, and the forget- 
fulness of her bereavement produced by such means. Now, 
if you point out what should be put in the place of all these, 
changing the one for the other, 6 we shall admit your assertion ; 

l FL 2 Lit., "call." 

3 i.e. Proserpine. The readiness with which Arnobius breaks the form 
of the sentence should be noted. At first the gods represent physical 
phenomena, but immediately after natural events are put for the gods. 
In the ms. two copyists have been at work, the earlier giving Libera, which 
is rather out of place, and is accordingly corrected by the later, Libera, 
followed by LB., Oberthur, Orelli, Hild., and Oekler. 

4 The MS. reads primo. Cf . c. 20. 5 Proles. 
6 Lit., " by change of things." 


but if you can neither present another supposition in each 
case, nor appeal to 1 the context as a whole, why do you make 
that obscure, 2 by means of fair-seeming allegories, which has 
been spoken plainly, and disclosed to the understanding of all % 
36. But you will perhaps say that these allegories are not 
[found] in the whole body of the story, but that some parts 
are written so as to be understood by all, while others have 
a double meaning, and are veiled in ambiguity. That is 
refined subtlety, and can be seen through by the dullest. 
For because it is very difficult for you to transpose, reverse, 
and divert [to other meanings] all that has been said, you 
choose out some things which suit your purpose, and by 
means of these you strive to maintain that false and spuri- 
ous versions were thrown about the truth which is under 
them. 3 But yet, supposing that we should grant to you that 
it is just as you say, how do you know, or whence do you 
learn, which part of the story is written without any double 
meaning, 4 which, on the other hand, has been covered with 
jarring and alien senses ? For it may be that what you 
believe to be so 5 is otherwise, that what you believe to be 
otherwise 6 has been produced with different, and [even] 
opposite modes of expression. For where, in a consistent 
whole, one part is said to be written allegorically, the other 
in plain and trustworthy language, while there is no sign 
in the thing itself to point out the difference between what 
is said ambiguously and what is said simply, that which is 
simple may as well be thought to have a double meaning, 
as what has been written ambiguously be believed to be 
wrapt in obscurity. 7 But, indeed, we confess that we do 
not understand at all by whom this 8 is either done, or can 
be believed to be possible. 

1 The MS. omits ad, supplied by Ursinus. 

2 So all edd., except Hild. and Oeliler, reading obscur-atis for the MS. 

3 Lit., " were placed above the interior truth." 

4 Lit., " with simple senses." 5 i.e. involved in obscurity. 

i.e. free from ambiguity. 7 Lit., " of shut off obscurities." 

b The reference is to the words in the middle of the chapter, " how do 


37. Let us examine, then, what is said in this way. In 
the grove of Henna, my opponent says, the maiden Proser- 
pine was once gathering flowers : this is as yet uncorrupted, 
and has been told in a straightforward manner, for all know 
without any doubt what a grove and flowers are, what Pro- 
serpine is, and a maiden. Summanus sprung forth from 
the earth, borne along in a four-horse chariot : this, too, 
is just as simple, for a team of four horses, a chariot, and 
Summanus need no interpreter. Suddenly he carried off 
Proserpine, and bore her with himself under the earth : the 
burying of the seed, my opponent says, is meant by the 
rape of Proserpine. What has happened, pray, that the story 
should be suddenly turned to something else ? that Proserpine 
should be called the seed ? that she who was for a long 
time held to be a maiden gathering flowers, after that she 
was taken away and carried off by violence, should begin to 
signify the seed sown f Jupiter, my opponent says, having 
turned himself into a bull, longed to have intercourse with his 
mother Ceres : as was explained before, under these names 
the earth and falling rain are spoken of. I see the law of 
allegory expressed in the dark and ambiguous terms. Ceres 
was enraged and angry, and received the parts 1 of a ram 
as the penalty demanded by 2 vengeance : this again I see 
to be expressed in common language, for both anger and 
testes [and] satisfaction are spoken of in their usual circum- 
stances. 3 What, then, happened here, — that from Jupiter, 
who was named [for] the rain, and Ceres, who was named 
[for] the earth, the story passed to the true Jove, and to a 
most straightforward account of events ? 

38. Either, then, they must all have been written and put 
forward allegorically, and the whole should be pointed out to 
us ; or nothing has been so written, since what is supposed 
to be [allegorical] does not seem as if it were part of the nar- 

you know which part is simple ? " etc. ; Arnobius now saying that he 
does not see how this can be known. 

1 Proles. 

2 Lit., " for penalty and." 

3 Lit., " in their customs and conditions." 

202 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book v. 

rative. 1 These are all written allegorically, [you say]. This 
seems by no means certain. Do you ask for what reason, 
for what cause % Because [I answer] all that has taken 
place and has been set down distinctly in any book cannot 
be turned into an allegory, for neither can that be undone 
which has been done, nor can the character of an event 
change into one which is utterly different. Can the Trojan 
war be turned into the condemnation of Socrates ? or the 
battle of Cannae become the cruel proscription of Sulla? A 
proscription may indeed, as Tullius says 2 in jest, be spoken 
of as a battle, and be called that of Cannae ; but what has 
already taken place, cannot be at the same time a battle and 
a proscription ; for neither, as I have said, can that which 
has taken place be anything else than what has taken 
place ; nor can that pass over into a substance foreign to it 
which has been fixed down firmly in its own nature and 
peculiar condition. 

39. Whence, then, do we prove that all these narratives 
are records of events ? From the solemn rites and mysteries 
of initiation, it is clear, whether those which are celebrated 
at fixed times and on set days, or those which are taught 
secretly by the heathen without allowing the observance of 
their usages to be interrupted. For it is not to be believed 
that these have no origin, are practised without reason or 
meaning, and have no causes connected with their first be- 
ginnings. That pine which is regularly borne into the 
sanctuary of the Great Mother, 3 is it not in imitation of that 
tree beneath which Attis mutilated and unmanned himself, 
which also, they relate, the goddess consecrated to relieve 
her grief ? That erecting oi phalli and fascina, which Greece 
worships and celebrates in rites every year, does it not recall 
the deed by which Liber 4 paid his debt ? Of what do those 

1 i.e. if historical, the whole must be so, as bits of allegory would not fit in. 

2 Cicero, pro Rose. Am. c. 32. 

3 The MS. and edd. read matris dex — " of the mother goddess ;" for 
which Meursius proposed deum — " mother of the gods," the usual form 
of the title. Cf. cc. 7 and 16. 

4 The name is wanting in the MS. Cf. c. 28. 


Eleusinian mysteries and secret rites contain a narrative ? 
Is it not of that wandering in which Ceres, worn out in 
seeking for her daughter, when she came to the confines of 
Attica, brought wheat [with her], graced with a hind's skin 
the family of the Nebridas, 1 and laughed at that most won- 
derful sight in Baubo's groins ? Or if there is another cause, 
that is nothing to us, so long as they are all produced 
by [some] cause. For it is not credible that these things 
were set on foot without being preceded by any causes, or 
the inhabitants of Attica must be considered mad to have 
received 2 a religious ceremony got up without any reason. 
But if this is clear and certain, that is, if the causes and 
origins of the mysteries are traceable to past events, by no 
change can they be turned into the figures of allegory ; for 
that which has been done, [which] has taken place, cannot, 
in the nature of things, be undone. 3 

40. And yet, even if we grant you that this is the case, 
that is, even if the narratives give utterance to one thing in 
words, [but] mean 4 something else, after the manner of 
raving seers, do you not observe in this case, do you not see 
how dishonouring, how insulting to the gods, this is which is 
said to be done ? 5 or can any greater wrong be devised than 
to term and call the earth and rain, or anything else (for it 
does not matter what change is made in the interpretation), 
the intercourse of Jupiter and Ceres 1 and to signify the 
descent of rain from the sky, and the moistening of the 
earth, by charges against the gods f Can anything be either 

1 No Attic family of this name is mentioned anywhere ; but in Cos 
the Nebridse were famous as descendants of iEsculapius through Nebros. 
In Attica, on the other hand, the initiated were robed in fawn-skins 
(vsfipihg), and were on this account spoken of as vefipigourss. Sal- 
masius has therefore suggested (ad SoUnum, p. 864, E) that Arnobius, 
or the author on whom he relied, transferred the family to Attica on 
account of the similarity of sound. 

2 Lit., " who have attached to themselves." 

3 Arnobius would seem to have been partial to this phrase, which 
occurs in the middle of c. 38. 

4 Lit., " say." 

5 Lit., " with what shame and insult of the gods this is said to be done." 


thought or believed more impious than that the rape of 
Proserpine speaks of seeds buried in the earth, or anything 
else (for in like manner it is of no importance), and that it 
speaks of the pursuit of agriculture to 1 the dishonour of 
father Dis ? Is it not a thousand times more desirable to 
become mute and speechless, and to lose that flow of words 
and noisy and 2 unseemly loquacity, than to call the basest 
things by the names of the gods ; nay, more, to signify 
commonplace things by the base actions of the gods? 

41. It was once usual, in speaking allegorically, to conceal 
under perfectly decent ideas, and clothe 3 with the respect- 
ability of decency, what was base and horrible to speak of 
openly ; but now venerable things are at your instance 
vilely spoken of, and what is quite pure 4 is related 5 in filthy 
language, so that that which vice formerly concealed from 
shame, is now meanly and basely spoken of, the mode of speech 
which was fitting 7 being changed. In speaking of Mars 
and Venus as having been taken in adultery by Vulcan's art, 
we speak of lust, says [my opponent], and anger, as restrained 
by the force and purpose of reason. What, then, hindered, 
what prevented you from expressing each thing by the words 
and terms proper to it? nay, more, what necessity was there, 
when you had resolved 8 to declare something or other, by 
means of treatises and writings, to resolve that that should 
not be the meaning to which you point, and in one narrative 
to take up at the same time opposite positions — the eagerness 
of one wishing to teach, the niggardliness of one reluctant to 

J~> OCT 

make public ? ° Was there no risk in speaking of the gods 

1 Lit., " with." 2 Lit., " din of." 

3 J'assive. 4 Lit,, " strong in chastity." 

5 The MS., first three edd., Elm., and Oehler read commorantur — 
" lingers," i.e. " continues to be spoken of ; " the other edd. receive 
commemorantur, as above, from the errata in the 1st ed. 

6 The MS., first four edd., and Oehler read gravitas — seriousness ; cor- 
rected pr. as above, in all edd. after Stewechius. 

7 So, perhaps, the unintelligible MS. dignorum should be emended 
digna rcrum. 

8 So all edd. since Stewechius, adding s to the MS. voluisse. 

9 i.e. the mere fact that the stories were published, showed a wish to 


as unchaste ? The mention of Inst and anger, [my opponent 
says], was likely to defile the tongue and mouth with foul 
contagion. 1 But, assuredly, if this were done, 2 and the veil 
of allegorical obscurity were removed, the matter would be 
easily understood, and at the same the dignity of the gods 
would be maintained unimpaired. But now, indeed, when 
the restraining of vices is said to be signified by the binding 
of Mars and Venus, two most inconsistent 3 things are done 
at the very same time ; so that, on the one hand, a description 
of something vile suggests an honourable meaning, and on 
the other, the baseness occupies the mind before any regard 
for religion can do so. 

42. But you will perhaps say (for this only is left which 
you may think 4 can be brought forward by you) that the 
gods do not wish their mysteries to be known by men, and 
that the narratives were therefore written with allegorical 
ambiguity. And whence have you learned 5 that the gods 
above do not wish their mysteries to be made public ! whence 
have you become acquainted with these? or why are you 
anxious to unravel them by explaining them as allegories ? 
Lastly, and finally, what do the gods mean, that while they 
do not wish honourable, they allow unseemly, even the basest 
things, to be said about them ? When we name Attis, says 
[my opponent], we mean and speak of the sun ; but if Attis 
is the sun, as you reckon [him] and say, who will that Attis 
be whom your books record and declare to have been born 
in Phrygia, to have suffered certain things, to have done 
certain things also, whom all the theatres know in the scenic 
shows, to whom every year we see divine honours paid 
expressly by name amongst the [other] religious ceremonies I 
Whether was this name made to pass from the sun to a man, 

teach ; but their being allegories, showed a reluctance to allow them to 
be understood. 

1 The edd. read this sentence interrogatively. 

2 i.e. " if you said exactly what you mean." The reference is not to 
the immediately preceding words, but to the question on which the 
chapter is based — " what prevented you from expressing," etc. 

3 Lit,, " perverse." 4 Passive. 6 Lit., "is it clear to you." 


or from a man to the sun ? For if that name is derived 
in the first instance from the sun, what, pray, has the golden 
sun done to you, that you should make that name to belong 
to him in common with an emasculated person ? But if 
it is [derived] from a goat, and is Phrygian, of what has 
the sire of Phaethon, the father of this light and bright- 
ness, been guilty, that he should seem worthy to be 
named from a mutilated man, and should become more 
venerable when designated by the name of an emasculated 
body ! 

43. But what the meaning of this is, is already clear to 
all. For because you are ashamed of such writers and 
histories, and do not see that these things can be got rid of 
which have once been committed to writing in filthy lan- 
guage, you strive to make base things honourable, and by 
every kind of subtlety you pervert and corrupt the real 
senses * of words for the sake of spurious interpretations ; 2 
and, as ofttimes happens to the sick, whose senses and under- 
standing have been put to flight by the distempered force 
of disease, you toss about confused and uncertain [con- 
jectures], and rave in empty fictions. 

Let it be [granted] that the irrigation of the earth was 
meant by the union of Jupiter and Ceres, the burying of 
the seed 3 by the ravishing [of Proserpine] by father Dis, 
wines scattered over the earth by the limbs of Liber torn 
asunder [by the Titans], that the restraining 4 of lust and 
rashness has been spoken of as the binding of the adulterous 
Venus and Mars. 

44. But if you come to the conclusion that these fables 
have been written allegorically, what is to be done with the 
rest, which we see cannot be forced into such changes [of 
sense] ? For what are we to substitute for the wrigglings 5 

1 Lit., " natures." 2 Lit., " things." 

3 So most edd., reading occullatio for the MS. occupatio. 

4 So all edd., reading com-, except Hild. and Oehler, who retain the 
MS. reading, im-pressio — " the assault of," i.e. " on." 

5 Lit., " waves "—fluctibus, the reading of the MS., LB., Hild., and 
Oehler ; the other edd. reading fustibus — " stakes." 


into which the lustful heat 1 of Semele's offspring forced him 
upon the sepulchral mound ? and what for those Gany- 
medes who were carried off 2 and set to preside over lustful 
practices? what for that conversion of an ant into which 
Jupiter, the greatest [of the gods], contracted the outlines 
of his huge body ? 3 what for swans and satyrs ? what for 
golden showers, which the same seductive [god] put on with 
perfidious guile, amusing himself by changes of form ? 
And, that we may not seem to speak of Jupiter only, what 
allegories can there be in the loves of the other deities? 
what in their circumstances as hired servants and slaves? 
what in their bonds, bereavements, lamentations ? what in 
their agonies, wounds, sepulchres ? Now, while in this you 
might be held guilty in one respect for writing in such wise 
about the gods, you have added to your guilt beyond 
measure 4 in calling base things by the names of deities, and 
again in defaming the gods by [giving to them] the names 
of infamous things. But if you believed without any doubt 5 
that they were here close at hand, or anywhere at all, fear 
would check you in making mention of them, and your 
beliefs and unchanged thoughts should have been exactly 6 
as if they were listening to you and heard your words. 
For among men devoted to the services of religion, not only 
the gods themselves, but even the names of the gods, should 
be reverenced, and there should be quite as much grandeur 
in their names as there is in those even who are thought of 
under these names. 

1 So Meursius, changing the MS. o- into u-rigo. 

2 The first four edd. retain the MS., reading partis — " brought forth ;" 
the others adopt a suggestion of Canterus, raptis, as above. 

3 Lit., " vastness." 

4 garo gerrejn, a proverb ridiculing a worthless addition, which 
nullifies something in itself precious, garum being a highly esteemed 
sauce (or perhaps soup), which would be thrown away upon gerres, a 
worthless kind of salt fish. Arnobius merely means, however, that 
while such stories are wrong, what follows is unspeakably worse. 

5 Lit., "with indubitable knowledge." 

6 Lit., " it ought to have been so believed, and to be held fixed in 
thought just," etc. 


45. Judge fairly, and you are deserving of censure in 
this, 1 that in your common conversation you name Mars 
when you mean 2 fighting, Neptune when you mean the seas, 
Ceres when you mean bread, Minerva when you mean 
weaving, 3 Venus when you mean filthy lusts. For what 
reason is there, that, when things can be classed under their 
own names, they should be called by the names of the gods, 
and that such an insult should be offered to the deities as not 
even we men endure, if any one applies and turns our names 
to trifling objects ? But language, [you say], is contemptible, 
if defiled with such words. 4 O modesty, 5 worthy of praise ! 
you blush to name bread and wine, and are not afraid to 
speak of Venus instead of carnal intercourse ! 

1 Lit., " are in this part of censure." 2 Lit., " for." 

3 Lit., " the warp," stamine. 

4 i.e. if things are spoken of under their proper names. 

5 The MS. reads ac unintelligibly. 



Having shown how impious were the opinions entertained by the heathen 
about their own gods, Arnobius next meets the charge of impiety made 
against Christians because they neither built temples, nor set up statues, 
nor offered sacrifices. This, however, he asserts was not the fruit of im- 
piety, but of nobler beliefs (1). For, admitting that they are gods, they 
must be free from all imperfection, and therefore self-sufficient, not de- 
pendent on aid from without, nor afflicted with the desires and passions 
of mortals. To think thus, he adds, is not to hold the gods in con- 
tempt (2). But if they are such, of what use would temples be to them ? 
Is it not sheer madness to think that you honour your superiors when you 
judge of them by your own necessities ? Do the gods need shelter from 
cold and heat, from rain or storm ? And although to men temples may 
seem magnificent, to the gods of heaven they can be only mean cells (3). 
But, it might be said, temples are built not to shelter the gods, but that 
we may address them face to face, as it were. Then, if prayers were 
offered to the gods under the open heaven, they would not be heard. 
But the true God must hear prayers wherever offered, nay, must be 
present even in the silent recesses of the heart, to know what is thought, 
what is desired, even though it be not expressed, for it is his to fill all 
things with his power, and not to be present in one place only (4). 
Otherwise there could be no hope of help ; for if prayers were made to 
one deity from different parts of the earth, while he could be present 
only in one, then either all would be alike neglected, or one only would 
be heard and answered (5). 

These temples, however, which were said to have been built in honour 
of the gods, were in reality places of sepulture. Thus Cecrops was 
buried in the temple of Minerva at Athens, and others, both men and 
women, in various well-known shrines (6), even the Capitol being only 
the sepulchre of Olus ; and thus the heathens are shown to have been 
guilty either of worshipping the dead as gods, or of dishonouring the 
gods by making tombs their temples (7). 

As to images, if there are really gods in heaven to whom supplication 
can be made, why, Arnobius asks, should figures of them be made on 
earth? and if they are not believed to be in heaven, it is still more 
difficult to say of what use these images are (8\ We worship the gods, 


270 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

the heathen said, by means of their images. Can the gods, therefore, 
Arnobius asks, receive homage only when offered to statues? What 
can be more insulting than to believe in a god, and pray to a statue, 
to hope for aid from a deity, but to ask it from his image (9) ? More- 
over, how could it be known that those figures were indeed images of 
the gods ? The moon is ever in motion; how could the figure of a woman 
which never stirred be her likeness? But if the gods were not such as 
their statues — which no one supposed — what audacity was shown in 
giving to them whatever figures men pleased (10) ! Little occasion had 
they to laugh at the superstitious worship of rivers, stones, sabres, and 
pieces of wood by ancient and barbarous peoples, while they themselves 
prayed to little figures of men. Did they, then, believe that the gods 
were like men ? No, Arnobius says ; only they found themselves com- 
mitted to a false position, and would rather maintain it with violence 
and cruelty than admit that they were in error (11). Hence it was that 
such extraordinary forms and equipments were given to the gods. But 
if the images were secretly removed from their proper places, and the 
insignia of one given to another, it would be impossible to say which 
was Jupiter, which Mars. How absurd to form images of the gods, 
which depend for their individuality on the dresses put upon them (12) ! 
It was a small thing, however, to distinguish the gods by means of reap- 
ing-hooks, tridents, horns, or hammers ; but it was no light matter that 
the gods should be fashioned like lewd men and women, and that thus 
divine honours should be paid to harlots (13). Arnobius next insists that 
images are but dead matter, moulded, cut, filed, and hewn into form by 
men ; and that it is therefore absurd for a man to worship what he has 
himself made (14). No one would worship, he says, a mass of metal or a 
heap of stones, or even fragments of images ; but why, while the parts 
are thus regarded as merely dead matter, should they, when formed into 
an image, become divine (15) ? Still men asked blessings from earthen- 
ware, copper, and ivory, and supposed that their prayers were heard by 
senseless figures, forgetting how and from what they were formed ; that 
it was man's skill which gave them all their grandeur, for within them 
there was only hideous emptiness ; and that they were destroyed by 
time, used as coverts by mean and loathsome creatures, and bemired by 
birds, the dumb animals thus teaching their master, man, that the images 
which he worshipped were beneath his notice (16). But, was the reply 
of the heathen, we worship not the images, but the deities, which are 
brought into them by their consecration. Do the gods, then, quit heaven 
to give dignity to what is base ? And if so, do they enter these images 
willingly or unwillingly ? If unwillingly, is their majesty not lessened ? 
If willingly, what can they find there to entice them from their starry 
seats (17)? It is further asked, Do the gods always remain in these 
images, or come and go at will ? If the former, how wretched is their 
case ! If the latter, how is it to be known when the god is in the image 


so that he should be worshipped, and when he has quitted it so that it 
may be safely neglected ? Moreover, in small figures, do the gods be- 
come small ? in those represented as sitting, do they sit ? and do they 
thus conform in all respects to their images (18) ? But there are either 
as many gods as statues, or no statue can be tenanted by a god, because 
one god cannot occupy different images (19). But if the gods dwell 
in their own images, why do they not themselves defend these, instead of 
leaving it to dogs and geese and watchers to protect their effigies from 
fire or thieves (20) ? Nay, more, why do they allow themselves to be 
robbed and insulted by the stripping from their images of what is 
valuable (21) ? It might be said that the gods despised such trifles ; 
but if so, that showed that they despised the images as well. Arnobius 
then relates the stories of men falling in love with statues of Venus, and 
asks, where was the goddess, that she did not repel and punish such 
insulting wantonness, or at least recall the frenzied youths to their 
senses (22) ? If any explanation could be found for this, there was none, 
however, for the fact that so many temples had been destroyed by 
fire and spoiled by robbers, without the interference of their presiding 
deities (23). Finally, if it were said that images had been devised in 
ancient times to terrify men from their wickedness by the belief that gods 
were at hand to see and punish their crimes, Arnobius admits that 
there would be some reason in this, if temples and images caused peace, 
justice, and purity to prevail on the earth ; but points out that this 
had not been the result, for crime and wickedness abound everywhere ; 
and temples, and even the images which were to force men to be just, are 
plundered without fear (24). He then asks what power Saturn's sickle, 
the winged shoes of Mercury, or any of the other insignia of the gods 
possess, to move men's minds to fear (25) ; and whether it had ever 
been thought that men could be frightened by a hideous face, as children 
by some bugbear. The enactment of laws, however, shows clearly that 
images or temples have no such power (26). He next proceeds to meet 
the charge, that Christians are atheists because they offer none of the 
usual divine honours to God. The fact he admits, but asserts that in so 
doing Christians really comply with God's will (27). 

1. S'SW^ 1W AVING shown briefly how impious and in- 
famous [are the] opinions [which] you have 
formed about your gods, we have now to 1 
speak of their temples, their images also, and 
sacrifices, and of the other things which are 2 united and 
closely related to them. For you are here in the habit of 
fastening upon us a very serious charge of impiety because we 
do not rear temples for the ceremonies of worship, do not set 
1 Lit,, " it remains that we." 2 Lit., " series which is," etc. ' 

272 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

up statues and images 1 of any god, do not build altars, 2 do 
not offer the blood of creatures slain [in sacrifices], incense, 
nor sacrificial meal, and finally, do not bring wine flowing 
in libations from sacred bowls ; which, indeed, we neglect to 
build and do, not as though we cherish impious and wicked 
dispositions, or have conceived any madly desperate feeling 
of contempt for the gods, but because we think and believe 
that they 3 (if only they are true gods, and are called by this 
exalted name 4 ) either scorn such honours, if they give way 
to scorn, or endure [them] with anger, if they are roused by 
feelings of ra<re. 

2. For — that you may learn what are our sentiments and 
opinions about that race — we think that they (if only they 
are true gods, that the same things may be said again till you 
are wearied hearing them 5 ) should have all the virtues in 
perfection, should be wise, upright, venerable (if only our 
heaping upon them human honours is not a crime), strong in 
excellences within themselves, and should not give themselves 6 
up to external props, because the completeness of their un- 
broken bliss is made perfect ; [should be] free from all agi- 
tating and disturbing passions ; should not burn with anger, 
should not be excited by any desires ; should send misfortune 
to none, should not find a cruel pleasure in the ills of men ; 
should not terrify by portents, should not show prodigies to 
cause fear ; should not hold [men] responsible and liable to 
be punished for the vows which they owe, nor demand ex- 
piatory sacrifices by threatening omens ; should not bring on 
pestilences [and] diseases by corrupting the air, should not 
burn up the fruits with droughts ; should take no part in the 
slaughter of war and devastation of cities ; should not wish 
ill to one party, and be favourable to the success of another ; 
but, as becomes great minds, should weigh all in a just 

1 Singular. 

2 Non altaria, non aras, i.e. neither to the superior nor inferior deities. 
Cf. Virgil, Eel. v. CG. 

3 The earlier edd. prefix d to the MS. cos— " that the gods," etc. 

4 Lit., "endowed with the eminence of this name." 

5 Lit., " and to satiety." 

6 The MS. wants se, which w T as supplied by Stewechius. 


balance, and show kindness impartially to all. For it belongs 
to a mortal race and human weakness to act otherwise ;* and 
the maxims and declarations of wise men state distinctly, that 
those who are touched by passion live a life of suffering, 2 
[and] are weakened by grief, 3 and that it cannot be but that 
those who have been given over to disquieting feelings, have 
been bound by the laws of mortality. Now, since this is the 
case, how can we be supposed to hold the gods in contempt, 
who we say are not gods, and cannot be connected with the 
powers of heaven, unless they are just and worthy of the 
admiration which great minds excite 1 

3. But, [we are told], we rear no temples to them, and 
do not worship their images ; we do not slay victims in sacri- 
fice, we do not offer incense and libations of wine. And what 
greater honour or dignity can we ascribe to them, than that 
w r e put them in the same position as the Head and Lord of 
the universe, to whom the gods owe it in common with us, 4 
that they are conscious that they exist, and have a living 
being ? 5 For do we honour Him with shrines, and by build- 
ing temples ? 6 Do we even slay victims [to Him] % Do we 
give [to Him] the other things, to take which and pour them 

1 i.e. not act impartially and benevolently, which may possibly be the 
meaning of contr arils agere, or, as Oehler suggests, "to assail [men] 
with contrary, i.e. injurious things." All edd. read egere, except Oehler, 
who can see no meaning in it ; but if translated, " to wish for contrary 
things," it suits the next clause very well. 

2 Lit., " whom passion touches, suffer." 

3 So the MS., Stewechius, Hild., and Oehler, while the first four edd. 
and Oberthur merely add m to dolore, and join with the preceding pati 
— " suffer pain, are weakened." 

4 The MS. and most edd. read di-vina nobiscum — " the divine things 
along with us ; " Heraldus rejects div. as a gloss, while Meursius, 
followed by Orelli, corrects dii una, and Oehler divi una, as above. 

5 Lit., " are contained in vital substance." 

6 Arnobius here expressly denies that the Christians had any temples. 
There has been some controversy on the subject (Mosheim, B. i. cent. 1, 
ch. 4, sec. 5, Soames' ed.), surely as needless as controversy could be ; for 
as the Christians must at all times have had stated places of meeting (al- 
though in time of persecution these might be changed frequently), it is 
clear that, in speaking thus, the meaning must be only, that their buildings 
had no architectural pretensions, and their service no splendour of ritual. 


274 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

forth in libation shows not a careful regard to reason, but 
heed to a practice maintained 1 [merely] by usage ? For it 
is perfect folly to measure greater powers by your necessities, 
and to give the things useful to yourself to the gods w T ho 
give [all things], and to think this an honour, not an insult. 
We ask, therefore, to do what service to the gods, or to meet 
what want, do you say that temples have been reared, 2 and 
think that they should be again built? Do they feel the 
cold of 3 winter, or are they scorched by summer suns ? Do 
storms of rain flow over them, or whirlwinds shake them ? 
Are they in danger of being exposed to the onset of enemies, 
or the furious attacks of wild beasts, so that it is right and 
becoming to shut them up in places of security, 4 or guard 
them by throwing up a rampart of stones ? For what are 
these temples ? If you ask human weakness 5 — something 
vast and spacious ; if you consider the power of the gods — 
small caves, as it were, 6 and even, to speak more truly, the 
narrowest kind of caverns formed and contrived with sorry 
judgment. 7 Now, if you ask to be told who was their first 
founder 8 and builder, either Phoroneus or the Egyptian 
Merops 9 will be mentioned to you, or, as Varro relates in his 
[treatise, cle] Admirandis, -ZEacus the offspring of Jupiter. 
Though these, then, should be built of heaps of marble, or 
shine resplendent with ceilings fretted with gold, [though] 
precious stones sparkle here, and gleam like stars set at vary- 
ing intervals, all these things are made up of earth, and of the 

1 Lit., " drawn out." 

2 So the edd., reading constructa for the corrupt MS. conscripta — 
" written." 

3 i.e. to suppose that temples are necessary to the gods, is to make them 
subject to human weakness. 

4 Lit., " with fortifications of roofs." 

5 i.e. if you have regard merely to the weakness of men, a temple may 
be something wonderful. 

G Lit., " some." 7 Lit., " formed by contrivance of a poor heart." 

8 Institutor, w r anting in all edd., except Hild. and Oehler. 

9 Arnobius here agrees with Clemens Alexandrinus, but Jos. Scaliger 
has pointed out that the name should be Cecrops. It is possible that 
Arnobius may have been misled by what was merely a slip of Clement's 


lowest dregs of [even] baser matter. For not even, if you 
value these more highly, is it to be believed that the gods 
take pleasure in them, or that they do not refuse and scorn 
to shut themselves up, and be confined within these barriers. 
This, [my opponent] says, is the temple of Mars, this [that] 
of Juno and of Venus, this [that] of Hercules, of Apollo, 
of Dis. What is this but to say this is the house of 
Mars, this of Juno and Venus, 1 Apollo dwells here, in this 
[house] abides Hercules, in that Summanus? Is it not, 
then, the very 2 greatest affront to hold the gods kept fast 3 
in habitations, to give to them little huts, to build lockfast 
places and cells, and to think that the things are 4 necessary 
to them which are needed by men, cats, emmets, and lizards, 
by quaking, timorous, and little mice ? 

4. But, says [my opponent], it is not for this reason that 
we assign temples to the gods as though we [wished to] ward 
off from them drenching storms of rain, winds, showers, or 
the rays of the sun ; but in order that we may be able to 
see them in person and close at hand, to come near and 
address them, and impart to them, when in a measure present, 
the expressions of our reverent feelings. For if they are in- 
voked under the open heaven, and the canopy of ether, they 
hear nothing [I suppose] ; and unless prayers are addressed to 
them [by those] near at hand, they will stand deaf and immove- 
able as if nothing were said. And yet we think that every 
god whatever — if only he has the power of this name — should 
hear what every one said from every part of the world, just 
as if he were present ; nay, more, should foresee, without wait- 
ing to be told, 6 what every one conceived in his secret and 
silent 6 thoughts. And as the stars, the sun, the moon, while 

1 The preceding words, from " this of Hercules," are omitted by the 
first four edd. and Elmenh., and were first restored from the MS. by 

2 Lit., " first and." 

3 So the edd., reading habere districtos for the MS. destmctos. 

4 Lit., " that the things be thought to be." 

5 Lit., " knowledge being anticipated." 

6 These words, et tacitis, omitted by Oberthiir, are similarly omitted 
by Orelli without remark. 

276 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

they wander above the earth, are steadily and everywhere in 
sight of all those who gaze at them without any exception ; 
so, too, 1 it is fitting that the ears of the gods should be closed 
against no tongue, and should be ever within reach, although 
voices should flow together to them from widely separated 
regions. For this [it is that] belongs specially to the gods, — 
to fill all things with their power, to be not partly at any 
place, but all everywhere, not to go to dine with the iEthio- 
pians, and return after twelve days to their own dwellings. 2 

5. Now, if this be not the case, all hope of help is taken 
away, and it will be doubtful whether you are heard 3 by the 
gods or not, if ever you perform the sacred rites with due 
ceremonies. For, to make it clear, 4 let us suppose that there 
is a temple of some deity in the Canary Islands, [another] 
of the same [deity] in remotest Thyle, also among the Seres, 
among the tawny Garamantes, and any others 5 who are de- 
barred from knowing each other by seas, mountains, forests, 
and the four quarters of the world. If they all at one time 
beg of the deity with sacrifices what their wants compel 
each one to think about, 6 what hope, pray, will there be 
to all of obtaining the benefit, if the god does not hear the 
cry sent up to him everywhere, and [if] there shall be any 
distance to which the words of the suppliant for help cannot 
penetrate ? For either he will be nowhere present, if he 
may at times not be anywhere, 7 or he will be at one place 

1 So the edd., inserting quo- into the MS. reading ita-que — "it is there- 
fore fitting," which is absurd, as making the connection between the 
members of the sentence one not of analogy, but of logical sequence. 

* Cf. the speech of Thetis, Iliad, i. 423-5. 

3 So the margin of Ursinus, Elm., LB., andOrelli, with Meursius, read- 
ing audiamini for the sis. audiamur — " we are heard," which does not 
harmonize with the next clause. 

4 Lit., " for the purpose of coming to know the thing." 

5 Lit., " if there are any others." 

6 So the MS., reading c-ogitare, corrected r " to beg," in the margin 

of Ursinus and Elm. For the preceding words the MS. reads, poscantque 
de numine. The edd. omit que as above, except Oehler, who reads qux — 
" what hope will there be, what, pray, to all," etc. 

7 So the MS., reading si uspiam poterit aliquando non esse, which may be 
understood in two senses, either not limited by space, or not in space, i.e. 


only, since lie cannot give his attention generally, and with- 
out making any distinction. And thus it is brought about, 
that either the god helps none at all, if being busy with 
something he has been unable to hasten to give ear to their 
cries, or one only goes away with his prayers heard, [while] 
the rest have effected nothing. 

6. What [can you say] as to this, that it is attested by the 
writings of authors, that many of these temples which have 
been raised with golden domes and lofty roofs cover bones 
and ashes, and are sepulchres of the dead I Is it not plain 
and manifest, either that you worship dead men for immortal 
gods, or that an inexpiable affront is cast upon the deities, 
whose shrines and temples have been built over the tombs of 
the dead I Antiochus, 1 in the ninth [book] of his Histories, 
relates that Cecrops was buried in the temple of Minerva/ 
at Athens ; again, in the temple of the same goddess, which 
is in the citadel of Larissa, 3 it is related and declared that 
Acrisius was laid, [and] in the sanctuary of Polias, 4 Erich- 
thonius ; [while] the brothers Dairas and Immarnachus [were 
buried] in the enclosure of Eleusin, which lies near the city. 
What say you as to the virgin daughters of Celeus ? are they 
not said to be buried 5 in the temple of Ceres at Eleusin I 
[and] in the shrine of Diana, which was set up in the temple 
of the Delian Apollo, are not Hyperoche and Laodice buried, 
who are said to have been brought thither from the country of 

not existing ; but the reading and meaning must be regarded as alike 

1 A Syracusan historian. The rest of the chapter is almost literally 
translated from Clement (p. 39), who is followed by Eusebius also 
(Przep. Evang. ii. 6). 

2 i.e. the Acropolis. 

3 In Thessaly, whither (ace. to Pausanias) he had fled in vain, to avoid 
the fulfilment of the oracle that he should be killed by his daughter's 

4 i.e. Athena Polias, or guardian of cities. Immediately below, the MS. 
reads Immarnachus, corrected in LB. and Orelli Immarus from Clem., 
who speaks of " Immarus, son of Eumolpus and Daeira." 

5 So the unintelligible reading of the MS., humation-ibus officia, was 
emended by Heraldus, followed by LB. and Orelli, -w liabuisse. 

278 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

the Hyperboreans ? In the Milesian Didymceon, 1 Leandrius 
says that Cleochus had the last honours of burial paid to 
him. Zeno of Myndus openly relates that the monument of 
Leucophryne is in the sanctuary of Diana at Magnesia. 
Under the altar of Apollo, which is seen in the city of 
Telmessus, is it not invariably declared by writings that the 
prophet Telmessus lies buried f Ptolemceus, the son of 
Agesarchus, in the first book of the History of Philopator 2 
which he published, affirms, on the authority of literature, 
that Cinyras, king of Paphos, was interred in the temple of 
Venus with all his family, nay, more, with all his stock. It 
would be 3 an endless and boundless task to describe in what 
sanctuaries they all are throughout the world ; nor is anxious 
care required, although 4 the Egyptians fixed a penalty for any 
one who should have revealed the places in which Apis lay 
hid, as to those Polyandria 5 of Varro, 6 by what temples they 
are covered, and what heavy masses they have laid upon them. 
7. But why [do] I [speak] of these trifles? What man is 
there who is ignorant that in the Capitol of the imperial 
people is the sepulchre of Tolus 7 Vulcentanus ? Who is 
there, I say, who does not know that from beneath 8 its 

1 i.e. the temple near Didyma, sacred to Apollo, who was worshipped 
then under the name Didymus. 

2 i.e. " lover of his father," the name given ironically to the fourth 
Ptolemy, because he murdered his father. 

3 Lit., " is." 

4 So the MS., both Rom. edd., Hild., and Oehlcr, reading quamvis pecnam ; 
Gelenius, Canterus, Elm., and OLeithur omit vis, and the other edd. v, 
i.e. " as to what punishment the Egyptian," etc. This must refer to the 
cases in which the sacred bull, having outlived the term of twenty-five 
years, was secretly killed by the priests, while the people were taught 
that it had thrown itself into the water. 

5 i.e. " burial-places." By this Oehler has attempted to show is meant 
the Hcbdomades vel de Imaginibus of Yarro, a series of biographical 
sketches illustrated with portraits, executed in some way which cannot 
be clearly ascertained. 

6 MS. Barronis. 

7 So the MS., first four edd., and Oberthiir, reading Toll, corrected OH 
iu the others, from Servius (ad. Mn. viii. 345). Arnobius himself gives 
the form Aldus, i.e. Olus, immediately below, so that it is probably correct. 

8 Lit., " the seats of." 


foundations there was rolled a man's head, buried for no very 
long time before, either by itself without the other parts [of 
the body] (for some relate this), or with all its members? 
Now, if you require this to be made clear by the testimonies 
of authors, Sammonicus, Granius, Valerianus, 1 and Fabius 
will declare to you whose son Aulus 2 was, of what race and 
nation, how 3 he was bereft of life and light by the slave of 
his brother, of what crime he was guilty against his fellow- 
citizens, that he was denied burial in his father 4 land. You 
will learn also — although they pretend to be unwilling to 
make this public — what was done with his head when cut off, 
or in what place it was shut up, and the whole affair carefully 
concealed, in order that the omen which the gods had attested 
might stand without interruption, 5 unalterable, and sure. 
Now, while it was proper that this [story] should be sup- 
pressed, and concealed, and forgotten in the lapse of time, 
the composition of the name published it, and, by a testimony 
which could not be got rid of, caused it to remain [in men's 
minds], together with its causes, so long as it endured itself ; 6 
and the state [which is] greatest [of all], and worships all 
deities, did not blush in giving a name to the temple, to name 
it from the head of Olus 7 Capitolium rather than from the 
name of Jupiter. 

8. We have therefore — as I suppose — shown sufficiently, 
that to the immortal gods temples have been either reared 
in vain, or built in consequence of insulting opinions [held] 

1 Ursinus suggested Valerius Antias, mentioned in the first chapter of 
the fifth book ; a conjecture adopted by Hild. 

2 The MS., LB., Hild., and Oehler read Aulus, and, ace. to Oehler, all 
other edd. Tolas. Orelli, however, reads Olus, as above. 

3 The MS. and both Koman edd. read germani servuli vita without 
meaning, corrected as above by Gelenius, Canterus, Elm., and Oberthiir, 
ut a g. servulo, and ut a g. servulis — "by the slaves," in the others, except 
Oehler who reads as above, g. servulo ut. 

4 The MS. and both Roman edd. read unintelligibly patientix, corrected 
palernx in Hild. and Oehler, pairix in the rest. 

5 Lit., "the perpetuity of the omen sealed might stand." 

6 Lit., " through the times given to itself." 

7 The MS. reads s-oli, — changed into Toll by the first four edd., Elm., 
and Oberthiir. The others omit .5. 


to their dishonour and to the belittling of the power believed 
[to be in their hands]. We have next to say something about 
statues and images, which you form with much skill, and 
tend with religious care, — wherein if there is any credibility, 
we can by no amount of consideration settle in our own 
minds whether you do this in earnest and with a serious pur- 
pose, or amuse yourselves in childish dreams by mocking at 
these very things. 1 For if you are assured that the gods exist 
whom you suppose, and that they live in the highest regions 
of heaven, what cause, what reason, is there that those images 
should be fashioned by you, when you have true beings to 
whom you may pour forth prayers, and [from whom you 
may] ask help in trying circumstances ? But if, on the 
contrary, you do not believe, or, to speak with moderation, 
are in doubt, in this case, also, what reason is there, pray, to 
fashion and set up images of doubtful [beings], and to form 2 
with vain imitation what you do not believe to exist ? Do 
you perchance say, that under these images of deities there 
is displayed to you their presence, as it were, and that, be- 
cause it has not been given you to see the gods, they are 
worshipped in this fashion, 3 and the duties owed [to them] 
paid ? He who says and asserts this, does not believe that 
the gods exist ; and he is proved not to put faith in his own 
religion, to whom it is necessary to see what he may hold, lest 
that which [being] obscure is not seen, may happen to be vain. 
9. We worship the gods, you say, by means of images. 
What then ? Without these, do the gods not know that they 
are worshipped, and will they not think that any honour is 
shown to them by you ? Through by-paths, as it were, then, 
and by assignments to a third party, 4 as they are called, they 
receive and accept your services ; and before those to whom 

1 i.e. " which you pretend to worship." 

2 So the edd., reading formar-e, except Hild. and Oehler, who retain 
the MS. reading i — " that images be formed." 

3 The MS. and both Roman edd. read corruptly insolidi, corrected ita 
or sic coli, as above, in all except the last two edd. 

4 i.e. you do not seek access to the gods directly, and seek to do 
them honour by giving that honour to the idols instead. 


that service is owed experience it, you first sacrifice to images, 
and transmit, as it were, some remnants to them at the 
pleasure of others. 1 And what greater wrong, disgrace, hard- 
ship, can be inflicted than to acknowledge one god, and [yet] 
make supplication to something else — to hope for help from a 
deity, and pray to an image without feeling 1 Is not this, I 
pray yon, that which is said in the common proverbs : to cut 
down the smith when you strike at the fuller; 2 and ichen you 
seek a man's advice, to require of asses and pigs their opinions 
as to what should be done? 

10. And whence, finally, do you know whether all these 
images which you form and put in the place of 3 the immortal 
gods reproduce and bear a resemblance to the gods ? For it 
may happen that in heaven one has a beard who by you is 
represented 4 with smooth cheeks ; that [another] is rather ad- 
vanced in years to whom you give the appearance of a youth ; 5 
that here he is fair, [with blue eyes], 6 who really has grey ones ; 
that he has distended nostrils whom you make and form with 
a hio;h nose. For it is not ri^ht to call or name that an imao-e 
which does not derive from the face of the original features 
like [it] ; which 7 can be recognised to be clear and certain from 
things which are manifest. For while all we men see that 
the sun is perfectly round by our eyesight, which cannot be 
doubted, you have given 8 to him the features of a man, and 

1 i.e. the transmission of the sacrifice to the gods is made dependent 
on idols. 

2 This corresponds exactly to the English, "to shoot at the pigeon 
and hit the crow." 

3 Lit., " with vicarious substitution for." 

4 The MS. reads effi-gitur, corrected as above, effin., in all edd. except 
Hild., who reads ejjicitur— "is made," and Stewecbius, effigiatur—" is 

5 Lit., "boy's age." 

G Flavus, so invariably associated with blue eyes, that though these 
are the feature brought into contrast, they are only suggested in this 
way, and not directly mentioned— a mode of speech very characteristic 
of Arnobius. 

7 i.e. a fact which can be seen to be true by appealing to analogy. 

8 So the ms., LB., Hild., and Oehler, reading donastis, the others 
donalis — "you give." 

282 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

of mortal bodies. The moon is always in motion, and in its 
restoration every month puts on thirty faces : 1 with you, as 
leaders and designers, that is [represented as] a woman, and 
has one countenance, which passes through a thousand dif- 
ferent states, changing each day. 2 We understand that all 
the winds are [only] a flow of air driven and impelled in 
mundane ways : in your hands they take 3 the forms of men 
filling with breath twisted trumpets by blasts from out their 
breasts. 4 Among [the representations of] your gods we see 
[that there is] the very stern face of a lion 5 smeared with 
pure vermilion, and that it is named Frugifer. If all these 
images are likenesses of the gods above, there must then be 
said to dwell in heaven also a god such as the image which 
has been made to represent his form and appearance ; G and, of 
course, as here that [figure] of yours, so there the deity him- 
self 7 is a mere mask and face, without the rest of the body, 
growling with fiercely gaping jaws, terrible, red as blood, s 

1 As the appearance of the moon is the same in some of its phases as 
in others, it is clear that Arnobius cannot mean that it has thirty dis- 
tinct forms. We must therefore suppose that he is either speaking very 
loosely of change upon change day after day, or that he is referring to 
some of the lunar theories of the ancients, such as that a new moon is 
created each day, and that its form is thus ever new (Lncr. v. 729-748). 

2 Lit., "is changed through a thousand states with daily instability. 1 ' 

3 Lit., "are." 4 Lit., "intestine and domestic." 

5 The MS. reads leon-e-s torvissimam faciem, emended, as above, leonis 
t.f, in LB., Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, and /. torvissima facie — "lions of 
very stern face," in the others. Nourry supposes that the reference is 
to the use of lions, or lion-headed figures, as architectural ornaments on 
temples (cf. the two lions rampant surmounting the gate of Mycenae), 
but partially coincides in the view of Elm., that mixed figures are meant, 
such as are described by Tertullian and Minucius Felix (ch. 28 : "You 
deify gods made up of a goat and a lion, and with the faces of lions and 
of dogs "). The epithet frugifer, however, which was applied to the 
Egyptian Osiris, the Persian Mithras, and Bacchus, who were also repre- 
sented as lions, makes it probable that the reference is to symbolic 
statues of the sun. 

G Lit., " such a god to whose form and appearance the likeness of this 
image has been directed." 

7 lit., "that." 

8 The MS. and both Roman edd. read unintelligibly mnguineo decotoro, 


holding an apple fast with his teeth, and at times, as dogs [do] 
when wearied, putting his tongue out of his gaping mouth. 1 
But if, 2 indeed, this is not the case, as we all think that it is 
not, what, pray, is the meaning of so great audacity to fashion 
to yourself whatever form you please, and to say 3 that it is 
an image of a god whom you cannot prove to exist at all ? 

11. You lauMi because in ancient times the Persians wor- 
shipped rivers, as is told in the writings which hand down 
[these things] to memory ; the Arabians an unshapen stone ; 4 
the Scythian nations a sabre ; the Thespians a branch instead 
of Cinxia; 5 the Icarians 6 an unhewn log instead of Diana; 
the people of Pessinus a flint instead of the mother of the 
gods ; the Romans a spear instead of Mars, as the muses of 
Varro point out ; and, before they were acquainted with the 
statuary's art, the Samians a plank 7 instead of Juno, as 
Aethlius 8 relates : and you do not laugh when, instead of the 

for which s. de colore, as above, has been suggested by Canterus, with 
the approval of Heraldus. 

1 The MS. here inserts puetuitate, for which no satisfactory emendation 
has been proposed. The early edd. read pituitate, a word for which there 
is no authority, while LB. gives potus avidltate — " drunk with avidity" 
— both being equally hopeless. 

2 MS. sic, corrected by Gelenius si. 

3 So Meursius, ac dicere, for MS. -cidere. 

4 It is worthy of notice that although in this passage, as often else- 
where, Arnobius adheres pretty closely to the argument proposed by 
Clemens Alexandrinus, he even in such passages sometimes differs from 
it, and not at random. Thus Clement speaks merely of a " stone," and 
Arnobius of an " unshaped stone." The former expression harmonizes 
with the words of Maximus Tyrius (Serin, xxxviii. p. 225, Steph.), " The 
Arabians worship I know not whom, but the image which I saw was a 
square stone;" while Suidas (Kiister's ed., s. v. dsvs "Ap/is) agrees with 
Arnobius in calling it a " stone, black, 'square, unfashioned" (xTUTraro;). 
This is the more noteworthy, as at times Arnobius would almost seem 
to be following Clement blindly. 

6 So Arnobius renders Clement's CWiseronian Hera. 

6 So corrected in the notes of Canterus from Clem, for the MS. reading 
Carios, retained by the first four edd. and Elmenh. In Icaria there was 
a temple of Diana called TctvpoToXtov. 

7 The MS. and first four edd. read p-uteum — " a well," corrected plut., 
as above, by Gifanius, and in the notes of Canterus. 

8 The MS. reads ethedius, corrected in the notes of Canterus. 

284 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

immortal god?:, you make supplication to little images of men 
and human forms — nay, you even suppose that these very 
little images are gods, and besides these you do not believe 

that anything has divine power. What say you, O ye ! 

Do the gods of heaven have ears, then, and temples, an 
occiput, spine, loins, sides, hams, buttocks, houghs, 1 ankles, 
and the rest of the other members with which we have been 
formed, which were also mentioned in the first part [of this 
book] 2 a little more fully, and cited with greater copiousness 
of language? Would that it were possible 3 to look into the 
.sentiments and very recesses of your mind, in which you 
revolve various and enter into the most obscure considera- 
tions : we should find that you yourselves even feel as we do, 
and have no other opinions as to the form of the deities. 
But what can we do with obstinate prejudices? what with 
those who are menacing [us] with swords, and devising new 
punishments [against us]? In your rage 4 you maintain a 
bad cause, [and that although you are] perfectly aware [of 
it] ; and that which you have once done without reason, you 
defend lest you should seem to have ever been in ignorance ; 
and you think it better not to be conquered, than to yield and 
bow to acknowledged truth. 

12. From such causes as these this also has followed, with 
your connivance, that the wanton fancy of artists has found 
full scope in [representing] the bodies of the gods, and 
giving forms to them, at which even the sternest might 
laugh. And so Hammon is even now formed and repre- 
sented with a ram's horns ; Saturn with his crooked sickle, 
like some guardian of the fields, [and] pruner of too luxu- 
riant branches ; the son of Maia with a broad - brimmed 
travelling cap, as if he were preparing to take the road, and 
avoiding the sun's rays and the dust; Liber with tender 
limbs, and with a woman's perfectly free and easily flowing 

1 So all edd., except both Roman cdd., which retain the MS. reading 

in the singular, suffraginem. 

- i.e. iii. G. 3 Lit., " it was allowed." 

4 So Meursius suggested amentes for the MS. reading animantis, for 

which Heraldus proposed arguments — " by arguments." 


lines of body ; 1 Venus, naked and unclothed, just as if you 
said that she exposed publicly, and sold to all comers, 2 the 
beauty of her prostituted body; Vulcan with his cap and 
hammer, but with his right hand free, and with his dress girt 
up as a workman prepares 3 for his work; the Delian god 
with a plectrum and lyre, gesticulating like a player on the 
cithern and an actor about to sing ; the king of the sea 
with his trident, just as if he had to fight in the gladiatorial 
contest: nor can any figure of any deity be found 4 which 
does not have certain characteristics 5 bestowed [on it] by the 
generosity of its makers. Lo, if some witty and cunning 
king were to remove the Sun from [his place before] the 
gate 6 and transfer him to that of Mercury, [and] again were 
to carry off Mercury and make him migrate to the shrine of 
the Sun (for both are made beardless by you, and with smooth 
faces), and to give to this one rays [of light], to place a little 
cap 7 on the Sun's head, how will you be able to distinguish 
between them, whether this is the Sun, or that Mercury, since 
dress, not the peculiar appearance of the face, usually points 
out the gods to you ? Again, if, having transported them in 
like manner, he were to take away his horns from the unclad 
Jupiter, and fix them upon the temples of Mars, and to strip 
Mars of his arms, and, on the other hand, invest Hammon 
with them, what distinction can there be between them, since 
he who had been Jupiter can be also supposed to be Mars, 
and he who had been Mavors can assume the appearance of 
Jupiter Hammon ? To such an extent is there wantonness 
in fashioning those images and consecrating names, as if 
[they were] peculiar to them ; since, if you take away their 
dress, the [means of] recognising each is put an end to, god 
may be believed to be god, one may seem to be the other, 
nay, more, both may be considered both ! 

1 Lit., " and most dissolved with the laxity of feminine liquidity." 

2 Divendere. 3 Lit., " with a workman's preparing." 
4 Lit., " is there any figure to find." s Hahitus. 

6 Exforibus. Cf. Tertull. de Idol. ch. 15: " In Greek writers we also 
read that Apollo Qvpxlor and the dsemones Antelii watch over doors." 

7 So the edd., reading petas-un-culum for the sis. -to-. 

286 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

13. But why do I laugh at the sickles and tridents which 
have been given to the gods ? why at the horns, hammers, 
and caps, when I know that certain images have 1 the forms 
of certain men, and the features of notorious courtezans'? 
For who is there that does not know that the Athenians 
formed the Hermce in the likeness of Alcibiades ? Who does 
not know — if he read Posidippus over again — that Praxiteles, 
putting forth his utmost skill, 2 fashioned the face of the 
Cnidian Venus on the model of the courtezan Gratina, whom 
the unhappy man loved desperately ? But is this the only 
Venus to whom there has been given beauty taken from a 
harlot's f ace ? Phryne, 3 the well-known native of Thespia — 
as those who have written [on] Thespian affairs relate — when 
she was at the height of her beauty, comeliness, and youthful 
vigour, is said to have been the model of all the Venuses 
which are [held] in esteem, whether throughout the cities of 
Greece or here, 4 whither has flowed the lonsrinc and ea^er 
desire for such figures. All the artists, therefore, who lived 
at that time, and to whom truth gave the greatest ability to 
portray likenesses, vied in transferring with all painstaking 
and zeal the outline of a prostitute to the images of the 
Cytherean. The beautiful [thoughts] 5 of the artists were 
full of fire; and they strove each to excel the other with 
emulous rivalry, not that Venus might become more august, 
but that Phryne 8 might stand for Venus. And so it was 
brought to this, that sacred honours were offered to courte- 
zans instead of the immortal gods, and an unhappy system 
of worship was led astray by the making of statues. That 
well-known and G most distinguished statuary, Phidias, when 
he had raised the form of Olympian Jupiter with immense 

1 Lit., " are." 2 Lit., " with strife of skills." 

3 MS. Phynia, but below Phryna, which is read in both instances by 
Hild. and Oehler. 

4 So Meursius, followed by Orelli, reading istic for the MS. iste. 

5 i.e. either the conceptions in their minds, or realized in their works. 
Orelli, followed by the German translator Besnard, adopting the former 
view, translates " the ideas of the artists (die Ideale der Kunstler) were 
full of fire and life." 

G So Gelenius and Canterus, reading et for MS. est. 


labour and exertion, 1 inscribed on the finger of the god Pan- 
takces 2 [is] beautiful ([this], moreover, was the name 
of a boy loved by him, and that with lewd desire), and was 
not moved by any fear or religious dread to call the god 
by the name of a prostitute ; nay, rather, to consecrate the 
divinity and image of Jupiter to a debauchee. To such an 
extent is there wantonness and childish feeling in forming 
those little images, adoring them as gods, heaping upon them 
the divine virtues, when we see that the artists themselves 
find amusement in fashioning them, and set them up as 
monuments of their own lusts ! For what [reason] is there, 
if you should inquire, why Phidias should hesitate to amuse 
himself, and be wanton when he knew that, but a little before, 
the very Jupiter which he had made was gold, stones, and 
ivory, 3 formless, separated, confused, and that it was he him- 
self who brought all these together and bound them fast, that 
their appearance 4 had been given to them by himself in the 
imitation 6 of limbs [which he had] carved ; and, which is 
more than 6 all, that it was his own free gift, that [Jupiter] 
had been produced and was adored among men 1 7 

14. We would here, as if all nations on the earth were 
present, make one speech, and pour into the ears of them all, 
words which should be heard in common : Why, pray, is this, 
O men ! that of your own accord you cheat and deceive your- 
selves by voluntary blindness ? Dispel the darkness now, and, 
returning to the light of the mind, look more closely and see 
what that is which is going on, if only you retain your right, 8 
and are not beyond the reach 9 of the reason and prudence 

1 Lit., " with exertion of immense strength." 

2 MS. Pantarches. This was a very common mode of expressing love 
among the ancients, the name of the loved one being carved on the bark 
of trees (as if the Loves or the mountain nymphs had done it), on walls, 
doors, or, as in this case, on statues, with the addition "beautiful" 
(Suidas, s. v. KctAo/ and 'Pu^uovaicc NifMoig, with Kuster's notes). 

3 Lit., "bones." 4 Lit., " conditions," habitus. 
5 Lit., " similitude." 6 Lit., " first among." 

7 Lit., " human things." 

8 i.e. the faculty of discernment, which is properly man's. 

9 Lit., " are in the limits of." 


given to you. 1 Those images which fill you with terror, and 
which you adore prostrate upon the ground 2 in all the temples, 
are bones, stones, brass, silver, gold, clay, wood taken from a 
tree, or glue mixed with gypsum. Having been heaped to- 
gether, it may be, from a harlot's gauds or from a woman's 3 
ornaments, from camels' bones or from the tooth of the Indian 
beast, 4 from cooking-pots [and] little jars, from candlesticks 
and lamps, or from other less cleanly vessels, [and] having 
been melted down, they were cast into these shapes and came 
out into the forms which you see, baked in potters' furnaces, 
produced by anvils and hammers, scraped with the silver- 
smith's, and filed down with [ordinary] files, cleft [and] hewn 
with saws, with augers, 5 with axes, dug [and] hollowed out 
by the turning of borers, [and] smoothed with planes. Is 
not this, then, an error? Is it not, to speak accurately, folly 
to believe [that] a god which you yourself made with care, to 
kneel down trembling in supplication to that which has been 
formed by you, and while you know, and are assured that it 
is the product 6 of the labour of your hands, 7 — to cast [your- 
self] down upon your face, beg aid suppliantly, and, in ad- 
versity and time of distress, [ask it] to succour s [you] with 
gracious and divine favour ? 

15. Lo, if some one were to place before you copper in 
the lump, and not formed 9 into any works [of art], masses 
of unwrought silver, and gold not fashioned into shape, wood, 
stones, and bones, with all the other materials of which statues 

1 The MS. reads liis — " these," emended, as above, vobis in the margin 
of Ursinus, Elm., and LB. 

2 Lit., " and humble." 3 i.e. a respectable woman. 

4 i.e. the elephant's tusk. 

5 So Salmasius, followed by Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, reading furfur- 
aculis, and LB., reading perforacirfis for the MS.furfure aculeis. 

6 So the margin of Ursinus, Meursius (according to Orelli), Hild., and 
Oehler, reading part-u-m for the MS. -e " is a part of your labour," etc. 

7 Lit., "of thy work and fingers." 

8 So the MS., both Roman edd., Elm., and Orelli, reading numinis 
favore, for which LB. rends favorem — " the favour of the propitious deity 
to succour [you]." 

9 Lit., "thrown together." 


and images of deities usually consist, — nay, more, if some one 
were to place before you the faces of battered gods, images 
melted down 1 and broken, and were also to bid you slay victims 
to the bits and fragments, and give sacred and divine honours 
to masses without form, — we ask you to say to us, whether 
you would do this, or refuse to obey. Perhaps you will say, 
why ! Because there is no man so stupidly blind that he wili 
class among the gods silver, copper, gold, gypsum, ivory, 
potter's clay, and say that these very things have, and possess 
in themselves, divine, power. What reason is there, then, that 
all these bodies should want the power of deity and the rank 
of celestials if they remain untouched and unwrought, [but] 
should forthwith become gods, and be classed and numbered 
among the inhabitants of heaven if they receive the forms of 
men, ears, noses, cheeks, lips, eyes, and eyebrows f Does the 
fashioning add any newness to these bodies, so that from 
this addition you are compelled 2 to believe that something 
divine and majestic has been united to them ? Does it 
change copper into gold, or compel worthless earthenware to 
become silver ? Does it cause things which but a little before 
were without feeling, to live and breathe? 3 If they had any 
natural properties previously, 4 all these they retain 5 when 
built up in the bodily forms of statues. What stupidity it is 
— for I refuse to call it blindness — to suppose that the 
natures of things are changed by the kind of form [into 
which they are forced], and that that receives divinity from 
the appearance given to it, which in its original body has 
been inert, and unreasoning, and unmoved by feeling! 

16. And so unmindful and forgetful of what the sub- 
stance and origin of the images are, you, men, rational 

1 Rigaltius suggested confracta — " shattered," for sis. -jlata. 

2 So the edd., reading cog- for the MS. cogit-amini. 
8 Lit., " be moved with agitation of breathing." 

4 Lit., " outside," i.e. before being in bodily forms. 

6 So Ursinus and LB., reading retin-e-nt for the MS. -ea-, which can 
hardly be correct. There may possibly be an ellipsis of si before this 
clause, so that the sentence would run : " If they had any natural pro- 
perties, [if] they retain all these, what stupidity," etc. 

6 Lit., •* deprived of moveableness of feeling." 


290 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

beings 1 and endowed with the gift of wisdom and discretion, 
sink down before pieces of baked earthenware, adore plates of 
copper, beg from the teeth of elephants good health, magis- 
tracies, sovereignties, power, victories, acquisitions, gains, 
very good harvests, and very rich vintages ; and while it is 
plain [and] clear that you are speaking to senseless things, 
you think that you are heard, and bring yourselves into dis- 
grace of your own accord, by vainly and credulously deceiving 
yourselves. 2 Oh, would that you might enter into some statue ! 
rather, would that you might separate 3 and break up into 
parts 4 those Olympian and Capitoline Jupiters, and behold 
all those parts alone and by themselves which make up the 
whole of their bodies ! You would at once see that these £ods 
of yours, to whom the smoothness [of their] exterior gives a 
majestic appearance by its alluring 5 brightness, are [only] a 
framework of flexible 6 plates, particles without shape joined 
together ; that they are kept from falling into ruin and fear 
of destruction, by dove-tails and clamps and brace-irons ; and 
that lead is run into the midst of all the hollows and where 
the joints meet, and causes delay 7 useful in preserving them. 
You would see, I say, at once [that they have] faces only 
without the rest of the head, 8 imperfect hands without arms, 
bellies and sides in halves, incomplete feet, 9 and, which is 
most ridiculous, [that they] have been put together without 

1 Lit., " a rational animal." 

2 Lit., " with deceit of vain credulity." The edd. read this as an in- 
terrogation : "Do you, therefore, sink down, adore, and bring your- 
selves into disgrace ? " 

3 So Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, adopting a conjecture of Grsevius, di-, 
for the MS. de-ducere — " to lead down." 

4 Lit., "resolved into members." 

5 Lit., " by the charm of." 

6 The MS. reads fiev-ilium, for which Hild. suggests fiex-, as above, 

previous edd. reading fiat " of cast plates ;" which cannot, however, 

be correct, as Arnobius has just said that the images were in part made 
of ivory. 

7 Lit, " delays salutary for lastingnesses." The sense is, that the lead 
prevents the joints from giving way, and so gives permanence to the 

8 Occipitiis. 9 Plantarum vestigia. 


uniformity in the construction of their bodies, being in one 
part made of wood, but in the other of stone. Now, indeed, 
if these things could not be seen through the skill with which 
they were kept out of sight, 1 even those at least which lie 
open to all should have taught and instructed you that you 
are effecting nothing, and giving your services in vain to 
dead things. For, in this case, 2 do you not see that these 
images, which seem to breathe, 3 whose feet and knees you 
touch and handle when praying, at times fall into ruins from 
the constant dropping of rain, at other times lose the firm 
union of their parts from their decaying and becoming 
rotten, 4 — how they grow black, being fumigated and dis- 
coloured by the steam [of sacrifices], and by smoke, — how 
with continued neglect they lose their position 5 [and] ap- 
pearance, and are eaten away with rust? In this case, I 
say, do you not see that newts, shrews, mice, and cock- 
roaches, which shun the light, build their nests and live 
under the hollow parts of these statues? that they gather 
carefully into these all kinds of filth, and other things 
suited to their wants, hard and half-gnawed bread, bones 
dragged [thither] in view of [probable] scarcity, 6 rags, down, 
[and] pieces of paper to make their nests soft, and keep 
their young warm ? Do you not see sometimes over the face 
of an image cobwebs and treacherous nets spun by spiders, 
that they may be able to entangle in them buzzing and im- 
prudent flies while on the wing ? Do you not see, finally, 
that swallows full of filth, flying within the very domes of the 
temples, toss [themselves] about, and bedaub now the very 

1 Lit., " from the art of obscurity." 

2 i.e. if the nature of the images is really concealed by the skill dis- 
played in their construction. 

3 Lit, " breathing." 

4 Lit., " are relaxed from decay of rottenness." 

5 i.e. fall from their pedestals. For the MS. reading situs (retained in 
LB., as above), the margin of Ursinus, followed by the other edd. except 

the first four, and Oberthiir, read situ "lose their appearance from 


6 So LB. and Oehler, reading /amis in spem for the MS. pannis^ omitted 
in other edd. All prefix p, as above, to the next word, annos. 

292 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

faces, now the mouths of the deities, the beard, eyes, noses, 
and all the other parts on which their excrements 1 fall ! 
Blush, then, even [though it is] late, and accept true methods 
and views from dumb creatures, and let these teach you that 
there is nothing divine in images, into which they do not fear 
or scruple to cast unclean things in obedience to the laws of 
their being, and led by their unerring instincts. 2 

17. But you err, [says my opponent], and are mistaken, for 
we do not consider either copper, or gold and silver, or those 
other materials of which statues are made, to be in themselves 
gods and sacred deities ; but in them we worship and venerate 
those whom their 3 dedication as sacred introduces and causes 
to dwell in statues made by workmen. The reasoning [is] 
not vicious nor despicable by which any one — the dull, 
and also the most intelligent — can believe that the gods, for- 
saking their proper seats — that is, heaven — do not shrink 
back and avoid entering earthly habitations ; nay, more, that 
impelled by the rite of dedication, they are joined to images ! 
Do your gods, then, dwell in gypsum and in figures of 
earthenware ? Nay, rather, are the gods the minds, spirits, 
and souls of figures of earthenware and of gypsum ? and, 
that the meanest things may be able to become of greater 
importance, do they suffer themselves to be shut up and con- 
cealed and confined in 4 an obscure abode ? Here, then, in 
the first place, we wish and ask to be told this by you : do 
they do this against their will — that is, do they enter the 
images as dwellings, dragged to [them] by the rite of dedica- 
tion — or are they ready and willing? and do you not summon 
them by any considerations of necessity ? Do they do this 
unwillingly? 5 and how can it be possible that they should be 
compelled [to submit] to any necessity without their dignity 

1 Deonerati proluvies podicis. 

2 Lit., " incited by the truth of nature." The MS. and both Roman 
edd. read d-, all others instincia, as above. 

3 Lit., " the sacred dedication." 

4 Lit., " concealed in the restraint of." 

5 The MS. reads inrogati (the next letter being erased, having probably 
been s redundant) si inuiti, corrected in the margin of Ursinus and Oehler, 
as above, -tis in. 


being impaired? With ready assent? 1 And what do the 
gods seek for in figures of earthenware that they should 
prefer these prisons 2 to their starry seats, — that, having been 
all but fastened to them, they should ennoble 3 earthenware 
and the other substances of which images are made ? 

18. What then? Do the gods remain always in sucli 
substances, and do they not go away to any place, even 
though summoned by the most momentous affairs? or do 
they have free passage, when they please to go any whither, 
and to leave their own seats and images ? If they are under 
the necessity of remaining, what can be more wretched than 
they, what more unfortunate than if hooks and leaden bonds 
hold them fast in this wise on their pedestals ? but [if] we 
allow that they prefer [these images] to heaven and the starry 
seats, they have lost their divine power. 4 But if, on the con- 
trary, when they choose, they fly forth, and are perfectly 
free to leave the statues empty, the images will then at 
some time cease to be gods, and it will be doubtful when 
sacrifices should be offered, — when it is right and fitting to 
withhold them. Oftentimes we see that by artists these 
images are at one time made small, and reduced to the size 
of the hand, at another raised to an immense height, and 

1 Lit., " with the assent of voluntary compliance." " Do you say," or 
some such expression, must be understood, as Arnobius is asking his 
opponent to choose on which horn of the dilemma he wishes to be im- 

2 Lit., "bindings." 

3 So Gelenius, Canterus, Elm., Oberth., and Orelli, reading nobilitent. 
No satisfactory emendation has been proposed, and contradictory accounts 
are given as to the reading of the MS. Immediately after this sentence, 
LB., followed by Orelli, inserts a clause from the next chapter. Cf. 
the following note. 

4 It will be seen that these words fit into the indirect argument of 
Arnobius very well, although transposed in LB. to the end of last chap- 
ter, and considered a gloss by Orelli and Hildebrand. " See the conse- 
quences," Arnobius says, " of supposing that the gods do not quit these 
images : not merely are they in a wretched case, but they must further 
lose their power as divinities." Meursius, with more reason, transposes 
the clause to the end of the next sentence, which would be justifiable if 

294 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

built up to a wonderful size. In this way, then, it follows 
that we should understand that the gods contract themselves 
in 1 little statuettes, and are compressed till they become 
like 2 a strange body; or, again, [that they] stretch them- 
selves out to a great length, and extend to immensity in 
images of vast bulk. So, then, if this is the case, in sitting 
statues also the gods should be said to be seated, and in 
standing ones to stand, to be running in those stretching 
forward to run, to be hurling javelins in those [represented 
as] casting [them], to fit and fashion themselves to their coun- 
tenances, and to make themselves like 3 the other character- 
istics of the body formed by the [artist]. 

19. The gods dwell in images — each wholly in one, or 
divided into parts, and into members? For neither is it 
possible that there can be at one time one god in several 
images, nor, again, divided into parts by his being cut up. 4 
For let us suppose that there are ten thousand images of 
Vulcan in the whole world : is it possible at all, as I said, 
that at one time one [deity] can be in all the ten thousand? 
I do not think [so]. [Do you ask] wherefore? Because 
things which are naturally single and unique, cannot become 
many while the integrity of their simplicity 5 is maintained. 
And this they are further unable [to become] if the gods 
have the forms of men, as your belief declares ; for either a 
hand separated from the head, or a foot divided from the 
body, cannot manifest the perfection of the whole, or it 
must be said that parts can be the same as the whole, while 
the whole cannot exist unless it has been made by gathering 
together its parts. Moreover, if the same [deity] shall be 
said to be in all [the statues], all reasonableness and sound- 

1 Perhaps " into," as Arnobius sometimes uses the abl. after in in- 
stead of the ace. 

2 Lit., " compressed to the similitude of." 

3 Lit., " to adapt their similitude to." 

4 Lit., " a cutting taking place." 

5 i.e. of their character as independent and not compounded. This 
is precisely such an expression as that which closes the fourth book, 
and its occurrence is therefore an additional ground for regarding the 
earlier passage as genuine. 


ness is lost to the truth, if this is assumed that at one time 
one can remain in [them] all ; or each of the gods must be 
said to divide himself from himself, so that he is both himself 
and another, not separated by any distinction, but himself 
the same as another. But as nature rejects and spurns and 
scorns this, it must either be said and confessed that there 
are Vulcans without number, if we decide that he exists 
and is in all the images ; or he will be in none, because he is 
prevented by nature from being divided among several. 

20. And yet, O' you — if it is plain and clear to you that 
the gods live, and that the inhabitants of heaven dwell in the 
inner parts of the images, why do you guard, protect, and 
keep them shut up under the strongest keys, and under fasten- 
ings of immense size, under iron bars, bolts, 1 and other such 
things, and defend them with a thousand men and a thousand 
women to keep guard, lest by chance some thief or noc- 
turnal robber should creep in? Why do you feed dogs in 
the capitols ! 2 Why do you give food and nourishment to 
geese ? Eather, if you are assured that the gods are there, 
and that they do not depart to any place from their figures 
and images, leave to them the care of themselves, let their 
shrines be always unlocked and open; and if anything is 
secretly carried off by any one with reckless fraud, let them 
show the might of divinity, and subject the sacrilegious 
robbers to fitting punishments at the moment 3 of their theft 
and [wicked] deed. For it is unseemly, and subversive of 
their power and majesty, to entrust the guardianship of the 
highest deities to the care of dogs, and when }'ou are seeking 
for some means of frightening thieves so as to keep them 
away, not to beg it from [the gods] themselves, but to set 
and place it in the cackling of geese. 

21. They say that Antiochus of Cyzicum took from its 

1 Claustris repagulis pessulis. 

2 Cf. p. 198, n. 3. Geese as wells as dogs guarded the Capitol, 
having been once, as the well-known legend tells, its only guards 
against the Gauls. 

3 The MS., first four ecld., and Elm. read nomine — "under the name 
of," corrected momine by Meursius and the rest. 

206 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Boos vr. 

shrine a statue of Jupiter made of gold ten 1 cubits [high], 
and set up in its place one made of copper covered with thin 
plates of gold. If the gods are present, and dwell in their 
own images, with what business, with what cares, had Jupiter 
been entangled that he could not punish the wrong done to 
himself, and avenge his being substituted in baser metal ? 
When the famous Dionysius (but [it was] the younger) 2 
despoiled Jupiter of his golden vestment, and put instead of 
it one of wool, [and], when mocking [him] with pleasantries 
also, he said that that [which he w 7 as taking away] was cold 
in the frosts of winter, this warm, that that one w r as cumbrous 
in summer, that this, again, was airy in hot weather, — where 
was the king of the world that he did not show his presence 
by some terrible deed, and recall the jocose buffoon to sober- 
ness by bitter torments? For why should I mention that 
the dignity of JEscuIapius was mocked by him? For when 
Dionysius was spoiling him of his very ample beard, [which 
was] of great weight and philosophic thickness, 3 he said that 
it was not right that a son sprung from Apollo, a father 
smooth and beardless, and very like a mere boy, 4 should be 
formed with such a beard that it was left uncertain which 
of them was father, which son, or rather whether they were 
of the same 5 race and family. Now, when all these things 
were being done, and the robber was speaking with impious 

1 So the MS., reading decern ; but as Clement says Ttmzettltx* Knxuv, 
we must either suppose that Arnobius mistook the Greek, or transcribed 
it carelessly, or, with the margin of Ursinus, read quindecim — " fifteen." 

2 Stewechius and Heraldus regard these words as spurious, and as 
having originated in a gloss on the margin, scz. junior — u to wit, the 
younger." Heraldus, however, changed his opinion, because Clement, 
too, says, " Dionysius the younger." The words mean more than this, 
however, referring probably to the fact that Cicero (de Nat. Deor. iii. 
33, 3-A, 35) tells these and other stories of the elder Dionysius. To 
this Arnobius calls attention as an error, by adding to Clement's phrase 
4 'but." 

3 Only rustics, old-fashioned people, and philosophers wore the beard 
untrimmed ; the last class wearing it as a kind of distinctive mark, 
just as Juvenal (iii. 15) speaks of a thick woollen cloak as marking a 

4 lmpuberi. 5 Lit,, " one." 


mockery, if the deity was concealed in the statue consecrated 
to his name and majesty, why did he not punish with just 
and merited vengeance the affront of stripping his face of its 
beard and disfiguring his countenance, and show by this, 
both that he was himself present, and that he kept watch 
over his temples and images without ceasing ? 

22. But you will perhaps say that the gods do not trouble 
themselves about these losses, and do not think that there is 
sufficient cause for. them to come forth and inflict punish- 
ment upon the offenders for their impious sacrilege. 1 Neither, 
then, if this is the case, do they wish to have these images, 
which they allow to be plucked up and torn away with 
impunity ; nay, on the contrary, they tell [us] plainly that 
they despise these [statues], in which they do not care to 
show that they were contemned, by taking any revenge. 
Philostephanus relates in his Cypriaca, that Pygmalion, 
king 2 of Cyprus, loved as a woman an image of Venus, 
which was held by the Cyprians holy and venerable from 
ancient times, 3 his mind, spirit, the light of his reason, and 
his judgment being darkened ; and that he was wont in 
his madness, just as if he were dealing with his wife, having 
raised the deity to his couch, to be joined with it in embraces 
and [face to] face, and to do other vain things, [carried away] 
by a foolishly lustful imagination. 4 Similarly, Posidippus, 5 
in the book which he mentions [to have been] written about 
Gnidus and about its affairs, 6 relates that a young man, of 
noble birth (but* he conceals his name), carried away with 
love of the Venus because of which Gnidus is famous, joined 
himself also in amorous lewdness to the image of the same 
deity, stretched on the genial couch, and enjoying 7 the plea- 
sures which ensue. To ask, again, in like manner-: If the 
powers of the gods above lurk in copper and the other sub- 

1 Lit., "punishment of violated religion." 

2 Clemens says merely " the Cyprian Pygmalion." 

3 Lit., " of ancient sanctity and religion." 

4 Lit., "imagination of empty lust." 5 Cf. ch. IS. 

6 So Gelenius, reading rebus for the MS. and first ed. re a (ms. ab) se. 

7 Lit., " in the limits of." 

298 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vr. 

stances of which images have been formed, where in the world 
was the one Venus and the other to drive far away from 
them the lewd wantonness of the youths, and punish their 
impious touch with terrible suffering? 1 Or, as the goddesses 
are gentle and of calmer dispositions, what would it have 
been for them to assuage the furious joys of 2 the wretched 
men, and to bring back their insane minds again to their 
senses ? 

23. But perhaps, as you say, the goddesses took the greatest 
pleasure in these lewd and lustful insults, and did not think 
that an action requiring vengeance to be taken, which soothed 
their minds, and which they knew was suggested to human 
desires by themselves. But if the goddesses, the Venuses, 
being endowed with rather calm dispositions, considered that 
favour should be shown to the misfortunes of the blinded 
[youths] ; when the greedy flames so often consumed the 
Capitol, and had destroyed the Capitoline Jupiter himself 
with his wife and his daughter, 3 where was the Thunderer at 
that time to avert that calamitous fire, and preserve from de- 
struction his property, and himself, and all his family ? Where 
was the queenly Juno when a violent fire destroyed her famous 
shrine, and her priestess 4 Chrysis in Argos ? Where the 
Egyptian Serapis, when by a similar disaster [his temple] 
fell, burned to ashes, with all the mysteries, and Isis? Where 
Liber Eleutherius, when [his temple fell] at Athens? Where 
Diana, when [hers fell] at Ephesus? Where Jupiter of 
Dodona, when [his fell] at Dodona? Where, finally, the 
prophetic Apollo, when by pirates and sea robbers he was 
both plundered and set on fire, 6 so that out of so many pounds 

1 Lit., " agonizing restraint." 2 Lit., " to." 

3 Cf. p. 198, n. 3. 

4 So Clemens narrates ; but Thucydides (iv. 133) says that " straight- 
way Chrysis flees by night for refuge to Phlious, fearing the Argives ;" 
while Pausanius (ii. 59) says that she fled to Tegea, taking refuge there 
at the altar of Minerva Alea. 

5 From Varro's being mentioned, Oehler thinks that Arnobius must 
refer to various marauding expeditions against the temples of Apollo on 
the coasts and islands of the iEgean, made at the time of the piratical 
war. Clemens, however, speaks distinctly of the destruction of the 


of gold, which ages without number had heaped up, he did 
not have one scruple even to show to the swallows which 
built under his eaves, 1 as Yarro says in his Saturas MenippeceP 
It would be an endless task to write down what shrines have 
been destroyed throughout the whole world by earthquakes 
and tempests — what have been set on fire by enemies, and 
by kings and tyrants — what have been stript bare by the 
overseers and priests themselves, even though they have 
turned suspicion away from them 3 — finally, what [have 
been robbed] by thieves and Canacheni, 4 opening [them] up, 
though barred by unknown means; 5 which, indeed, would 
remain safe and exposed to no mischances, if the gods were 
present to defend them, or had any care for their temples, as 
is said. But now because they are empty, and protected by 
no indwellers, Fortune has power over them, and they are 
exposed to all accidents just as much as are all other things 
which have not life. 6 

24. Here also the advocates of images are wont to say this 
also, that the ancients knew well that images have no divine 
nature, and that there is no sense in them, but that they 
formed them profitably and wisely, for the sake of the un- 
manageable and ignorant mob, which is the majority in 
nations and in states, in order that a kind of appearance, as 
it were, of deities being presented to them, from fear they 
might shake off their rude natures, and, supposing that they 

temple at Delphi (p. 46), and it is therefore probable that this is re- 
ferred to, if not solely, at least along with those which Varro mentions. 

1 Lit., "his visitors," hospitis. 

2 Varro Menippeus, an emendation of Carrio, adopted in LB. and 
Orelli for the MS. se tJienipeus. 

3 Lit., " suspicion being averted." 

4 It has been generally supposed that reference is thus made to some 
kind of thieves, which is probable enough, as Arnobius (end of next 
chapter) classes all these plunderers as "tyrants, kings, robbers, and 
nocturnal thieves ; " but it is impossible to say precisely what is meant. 
Heraldus would read Saraceni — " Saracens." 

5 Lit., " with obscurity of means." The phrase may refer either to 
the defence or to the assault of temples by means of magic arts. 

6 Lit., "interior motion." 

300 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

were acting In the presence of the gods, put 1 away their im- 
pious deeds, and, changing their manners, learn to act as 
men ; 2 and that august forms of gold and silver were sought 
for them, for no other reason than that some power was 
believed to reside in their splendour, such as not only to 
dazzle the eyes, but even to strike terror into the mind itself 
at the majestic beaming lustre. Now this might perhaps 
seem to be said with some reason, if, after the temples of the 
gods were founded, and their images set up, there were no 
wicked man in the world, no villany at all, [if] justice, 
peace, good faith, possessed the hearts of men, and no one 
on earth were called gnilty and guiltless, all being ignorant 
of wicked deeds. But now when, on the contrary, all things 
are full of wicked [men], the name of innocence has almost 
perished, [and] every moment, every second, evil deeds, 
till now unheard of, spring to light in myriads from the 
wickedness of wrongdoers, how is it right to say that images 
have been set up for the purpose of striking terror into the 
mob, while, besides innumerable forms of crime and wicked- 
ness, 3 we see that even the temples themselves are attacked 
by tyrants, by kings, by robbers, and by nocturnal thieves, 
and that these very gods whom antiquity fashioned and con- 
secrated to cause terror, are carried away 4 into the caves of 
robbers, in spite even of the terrible splendour of the gold ? 5 
25. For what grandeur — if you look at the truth without 
any prejudice 6 — is there in these images 7 of which they 
speak, that the men of old should have had reason to hope 
and think that, by beholding them, the vices of men could 
be subdued, and their morals and wicked ways brought under 
restraint? 8 The reaping-hook, for example, which was 

1 Lit., " lop away," depntarcnt, the reading of the MS., Hild., and 
Oehler ; the rest reading deponerent — " lay aside." 

2 Lit., " pass to human offices." 

3 Lit., "crimes and wickednesses." 4 Lit., " go," vadere. 

5 Lit., " with their golden and to-be-feared splendours themselves." 

6 Lit., " and without any favour," gratijicalione. 

7 Lit., " what great [thing] have these images in them." 

8 So the MS., first four edd.. Elm., Hild., and Oehler, reading mores ct 


assigned to Saturn, 1 was it to inspire mortals with fear, that 
they should be willing to live peacefully, and to abandon 
their malicious inclinations? Janus, with double face, or 
that spiked key by which he has been distinguished ; Jupiter, 
cloaked and bearded, and holding in his right hand a piece of 
wood shaped like a thunderbolt ; the cestus of Juno, 2 or the 
maiden lurking under a soldier's helmet ; the mother of the 
gods, with her timbrel ; the Muses, with their pipes and 
psalteries ; Mercury, the winged slayer of Argus ; -ZEscula- 
pius, with his staff; Ceres, with huge breasts, or the drinking 
cup swinging in Liber's right hand ; Mulciber, with his work- 
man's dress ; or Fortune, with her horn full of apples, figs, 
or autumnal fruits; Diana, with half-covered thighs, or Venus 
[perfectly] naked, exciting to lustful desire ; Anubis, with 
his dog's face ; or Priapus, of less importance 3 than his own 
genitals — [were these expected to make men afraid] ? 

26. O dreadful forms of terror and 4 frightful bugbears 5 
on account of which the human race was to be benumbed 
for ever, to attempt nothing in its utter amazement, and to 
restrain itself from every wicked and shameful act — little 
sickles, keys, caps, pieces of wood, winged sandals, staves, 
little timbrels, pipes, psalteries, breasts protruding and of 
great size, little drinking cups, pincers, and horns filled with 
fruit, the naked bodies of women, and huge veretra openly 
exposed ! Would it not have been better to dance [and] to 
sing, than calling it gravity and pretending to be serious, to 
relate what is so insipid and so silly, that images 6 were 
formed by the ancients to check wrongdoing, and to [arouse] 
the fears of the wicked and impious? Were the men of 
that age and time, in understanding, so void of reason and 
good sense, that they were kept back from wicked actions, 

maleficia, corrected in the others a maleficio — " morals withheld from 

1 Cf. ch. xii. 

2 The reference is probably to some statue or picture of Juno repre- 
sented as girt with the girdle of Venus (II. xiv. 214). 

3 Lit., "inferior." 4 Formidinum. & Terr ores. 
6 Or, perhaps, " relate that images so frigid and so awkward." 

302 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vi. 

just as if they were little boys, by the preternatural 1 savage- 
ness of masks, by grimaces also, and bugbears? 2 And how 
has this been so entirely changed, that though there are so 
many temples in your states filled with images of all the 
gods, the multitude of criminals cannot be resisted [even] 
with so many laws and so terrible punishments, and their 
audacity cannot be overcome 3 by any means, and wicked 
deeds, repeated again and again, multiply the more it is 
striven by laws and [severe] judgments to lessen the number 
of cruel deeds, and to quell them by the check [given by 
means] of punishments ? But if images caused any fear to 
men, the passing of laws would cease, nor would so many 
kinds of tortures be established against the daring of the 
guilty : now, however, because it has been proved and estab- 
lished that the supposed 4 terror which is said to flow 
out from the images is in reality vain, recourse has been 
had to the ordinances of laws, by which there might be a 
dread [of punishment which should be] most certain fixed 
in men's minds also, and a condemnation settled ; to which 
these very images also owe it that they yet stand safe, and 
secured by some respect being yielded to them. 

27. Since it has been sufficiently shown, as far as there 
has been opportunity, how vain it is to form images, the 
course of our argument requires that we should next speak as 
briefly as possible, and without any periphrasis, about sacri- 
fices, about the slaughter and immolation of victims, about 
pure wine, about incense, and about all the other things which 
are provided on such occasions. 6 For with respect to this 
you have been in the habit of exciting against us the most 

1 The MS. and both Roman edd. read monstruosissima-s torvitate-s annis; 
corrected by Gelenius and later edd. monstruosisslmd torvitate cuiimos, 
and by Salmasius, Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, as above, m. t. sannis. 

2 The MS., first four edd., Elm., and Oberthiir read manus, which, with 
animos read in most (cf. preceding note), would run, " that they were 
even kept back, as to (i.e. in) minds and hands, from wicked actions by 
the preternatural savageness of masks." The other edd. read with Sal- 
masius, as above, maniis. 

3 Lit., " cut away." * Lit., " opinion of." 
6 Lit., " in that part of years." 


violent ill-will, of calling us atheists, and inflicting upon us 
the punishment of death, even by savagely tearing us to 
pieces with wild beasts, on the ground that we pay very little 
respect 1 to the gods ; which, indeed, we admit that we do, 
not from contempt or scorn of the divine, 2 but because we 
think that such powers require nothing of the kind, and are 
not possessed by desires for such things. 

1 Lit., " attribute least." 2 Lit., " divine spurning-." 



To vindicate the Christians from any charge of impiety because they 
offered no sacrifices, Arnobius quotes Varro's opinion, that the true gods 
could not wish for these, whilst the images could care for nothing (1). 
The true gods, though unknown because unseen, must be, so far as 
their divinity is concerned, exactly alike, so as never to have been be- 
gotten, or be dependent on anything external to themselves (2). But if 
this is the case, on what ground ought sacrifices to be offered — as food 
for the gods ? but whatever needs help from without, must be liable to 
perish if this is withheld. Moreover, unless the gods feed on the steam 
and vapour of the sacrifices, it is plain that they receive nothiug, as the 
fire on the altar destroys what is placed on it ; whilst, finally, if the 
gods are incorporeal, it is difficult to see how they can be supported by 
corporeal substances (3). It might indeed be supposed that the gods 
took some pleasure in having victims slain to them ; but this is exposed 
to two objections, — that to feel pleasure necessitates the capacity of 
feeling pain, whilst these two states are becoming only in the weakness 
of mortals, and require the possession of the senses, which can only 
accompany a bodily form, from which the gods are supposed to be free ; 
and that, secondly, to feel pleasure in the sufferings of animals, is hardly 
consistent with the divine character (4). It was commonly held that 
sacrifices propitiated the deities, and appeased their wrath. Against this 
Arnobius protests as utterly inconsistent with the view of the divine 
nature, which he conceives it necessary to maintain so persistently (5). 
But conceding this point, for the sake of argument, two alternatives 
are proposed : such sacrifices should be offered either before or after the 
divine wrath is excited. If the former is chosen, this is to represent the 
gods as wild beasts to be won from their savageness by throwing to them 
sops, or that on which to vent their rage ; if the latter, without waiting 
to discuss whether the divine greatness would be offended by a creature 
so ignorant and unimportant as man (G), or what laws the gods have 
established on earth by the violation of which they might be enraged 
(7), it is asked why the death of a pig, a chicken, or an ox should 
change the disposition of a god, and whether the gods can be bribed into 
a gracious mood. Moreover, if the divine pardon is not given freely, it 
would be better to witlihold it, as men sin more readily when they be- 



lieve that they can purchase pardon for themselves (8). A protest is 
put into the mouth of an ox against the injustice of compelling cattle 
to pay the penalty of men's offences (9). Arnobius then points out 
that the doctrine of fate, that all things proceed from causes, and that 
therefore the course of events cannot be changed, does away with all 
need to appeal to the gods to render services which are not in their 
power (10). Finally, the miseries of men are a conclusive proof that 
the gods cannot avert evil (11), otherwise they are ungrateful in allow- 
ing misfortunes to overwhelm their worshippers. A brief resume is 
given of the preceding arguments, illustrated by the cases of two men, 
of whom one has but little to give, whilst the other loads the altars with 
his offerings ; and of two nations at war with each other whose gifts 
are equal, — which show how untenable the hypothesis is, that sacrifices 
purchase the favour of the gods (12). 

Another pretext urged was, that the gods were honoured by the 
offering of sacrifices. How could this be ? Honour consists in some- 
thing yielded and something received (13). But what could the gods 
receive from men ? how could their greatness be increased by men's 
actions (14) ? The true deities should indeed be honoured by enter- 
taining thoughts worthy of them ; but what kind of honour is it to slay 
animals before them, to offer them blood, and send up wreaths of smoke 
into the air (15) ? Still, if such horrid sights and smells were thought 
pleasing to the gods, why were certain animals and certain things 
chosen to be sacrificed, and not others (16) ? The absurdity of offering 
to the gods the food used by us, is shown by supposing that pigs, dogs, 
asses, swallows, and other birds and beasts, were to sacrifice to men, in 
like manner, flies, ants, hay, bones, and the filth even which some of 
them eat (17). It is then asked why to one god bulls were sacrificed, 
to another kids, to a third sheep ; to some white, to others black, to 
some male, to others female animals (18). The usual answer was, that 
to the gods male victims, to the goddesses females, were sacrificed, which 
brings up again the question as to sex amongst the deities. But pass- 
ing this by, what is there in difference of colour to make the gods 
pleased or displeased as the victim might be white or black ? The gods 
of heaven, it might be said, delight in cheerful colours, those of Hades in 
gloomy ones. In the time of Arnobius, however, few believed that there 
was any such place as Hades ; and if this were so, there could be no gods 
there (19). But conceding this point also, and admitting that to their 
savage dispositions gloomy colours might be pleasing, Arnobius suggests 
that only the skins of animals are black, and that therefore the flesh, 
bones, etc. should not be offered, nor the wine, milk, oil, and other 
things used in sacrifices which are not black (20). It is next asked 
why certain animals were sacrificed to certain gods, and not to others ; 
to which the only answer is, that it had been so determined by the men 
of former times (21). Or if it be suggested that a reason is seen in the 


306 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

sacrificing of fruitful and barren victims to mother earth and the virgin 
Minerva, such reasoning requires that musicians should be sacrificed to 
Apollo, physicians to iEsculapius, and orators to Mercury (22). Re- 
turning to the argument, that sacrifices should be offered to the gods to 
win favours from the good, to avert the malice of the bad, Arnobius 
points out, first, that it is impossible that there should be evil deities ; 
and, secondly, that to suppose that the sacrifices were effectual, is to 
suppose that by them an evil deity could be changed into a good, and 
that, through their being withheld, a beneficent deity might become 
malevolent ; which is as absurd as if one were to expect, on caressing a 
viper or scorpion, that he would escape being stung (23). He proceeds 
to call attention to various kinds of puddings, cakes, pottages, and 
other delicacies used in ceremonies, asking with scorn for what end 
they were employed (24, 25). It is next pointed out, that no reason 
can be offered for the use of incense, which was certainly unknown in 
the heroic ages, and unused even in Etruria, the mother of superstition, 
and could not have been burned on the altar until after the time of 
Numa. If, therefore, the ancients were not guilty in neglecting to burn 
incense, it could not be necessary to do so (26). Moreover, of what 
service was incense to the gods ? If they were honoured by its being 
burned, why should not any gum be so used (27) ? If incense is pre- 
ferred because of its sweet smell, the gods must have noses, and share 
man's nature. Further, they may not be affected as we are by odours, 
and what is pleasant to us may be disagreeable to them ; and vice versa. 
But such considerations are inadmissible with regard to the gods, for 
reason demands that they should be immaterial, and that therefore they 
should not be affected by odours (28). Arnobius next shows that the 
use of wine in ceremonies was as little based on reason as that of 
incense, for deities cannot be affected by thirst (29) ; and how could 
they be honoured with that which excites to vice and impairs man's 
reason (30) ? The formula with which libations were made is ridiculed 
as niggardly and stingy (31) ; and the wreaths and garlands worn by 
the celebrants, and the noise and clangour of their musical instruments, 
are also turned into mockery (32) ; whilst it is shown that, to speak of 
the gods being honoured by the games dedicated to them, is to say that 
they were honoured by being publicly insulted in the ribald plays which 
were acted at these times, and by licentious and lustful conduct (33). 
All these detestable opinions originated in man's inability to under- 
stand what the deity really is, and in his therefore attributing to the 
divine nature what belongs to himself alone (34). In the three chap- 
ters which follow, he contrasts the opinions of heathen and Christians 
as to the divine nature, showing that to the former nothing seemed too 
bad to be attributed to their gods ; while the latter, not professing to 
worship the gods, insulted them less by not holding such opinions 


The pestilences and other calamities are next discussed, which were 
supposed to have been sent by the gods as punishments for sacrifices 
or other honours withheld from them (38). Thus it was related that, 
the ludl Circenses having been violated, a pestilence ensued until they 
were once more celebrated in due form (39). Other pestilences also were 
got rid of, and enemies overcome, when gods had been brought across 
the seas and established at Rome ; while, on the Capitol's being struck by 
lightning, evil was averted only by rearing towards the east an image 
of Jupiter in a higher place (40). But how can the story of the ludl 
Circenses be believed, which represents Jupiter as delighting in childish 
amusements, angry without cause, and punishing those who had done 
no wrong (41, 42), and going so far astray in making choice of a man 
to declare the cause of his anger (43)? In like manner Arnobius dis- 
cusses the transportation of iEsculapius, in the form of a serpent, from 
Epidaurus to the island in the Tiber, after which it was said the people 
were restored to health (44-46). In reply to the question how it was 
that the plague ceased if the god did not really come to Rome, Arno- 
bius asks how it was that, if the god did come to Rome, he did not 
preserve the city from all disease and pestilence thereafter (47) ; and as 
to the argument, that this did not happen because in later ages wicked- 
ness and impiety prevailed, reminds his opponent that at no epoch was 
Rome a city of the good and pious (48). So, too, the Great Mother 
was said to have been brought from Phrygia to enable the Romans to 
overcome Hannibal. But all that was brought was a stone (49) ; and 
are we to suppose that Hannibal was overcome by a stone, and not by 
the energy, resolution, and courage of the Romans ? But if the Great 
Mother really drove Hannibal from Italy, why did she delay doing so 
until carried over the seas to Rome (50) ? But without insisting on 
these objections, who will call her a goddess who is perfectly capri- 
cious, abandons her worshippers to settle amongst those who are more 
powerful, and loves to be in the midst of slaughter and bloodshed, 
whilst the true gods must be perfectly just and equally well disposed to 
all men (51)? 

HAT, then, 1 some one will say, do you think 
that no sacrifices at all should be offered? 
To answer you not with our own, but with 
your Varro's opinion— none. Why so f Be- 
cause, he says, the true gods neither wish nor demand these ; 

1 If this seems rather an abrupt beginning, it must be remembered 
that by some accident the introduction to the seventh book has been 
tacked on as a last chapter to the sixth, where it is just as out of place 
as here it would be in keeping. 

303 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vij. 

while those 1 which are made of copper, earthenware, gvp- 
siim, or marble, care much less for these things, for they 
have no feeling; and you are not blamed 2 if you do not offer 
them, nor do you win favour if you do. No sounder opinion 
can be found, [none] truer, and [one] which any one may 
adopt, although he may be stupid and very hard [to con- 
vince]. For who is so obtuse as either to slay victims in 
sacrifice to those who have no sense, or to think that they 
should be given to those who are removed far from them in 
their nature and blessed state ? 

2. Who are the true gods ? you say. To answer you in 
common and simple language, we do not know; 3 for how 
can we know who those are w T hom we have never seen ? 
We have been accustomed to hear from you that an infinite 
number 4 are gods, and are reckoned among 5 the deities; 
but if these exist G anywhere, and [are] true gods, as Teren- 
tius 7 believes, it follows as a consequence, that they corre- 
spond to their name ; that is, that they are such as we all 
see that they should be, [and that they are] worthy to be 
called by this name ; nay, more (to make an end without 
many words), [that they are such] as is the Lord of the uni- 
verse, and [the King] omnipotent Himself, whom we have 
knowledge and understanding [enough] to speak of as the 
true God when we are led to mention His name. For one 

1 Lit., " those, moreover." 

2 Lit., " nor is any blame contracted." 

3 On this Heraldus remarks, that it shows conclusively how slight 
was the acquaintance with Christianity possessed by Arnobius, when he 
could not say who were the true gods. This, however, is to forget that 
Arnobius is not declaring his own opinions here, but meeting his adver- 
saries on their own ground. He knows who the true God is — the source 
and fountain of all being, and framer of the universe (ii. 2), and if there 
are any lesser powers called gods, what their relation to Him must be 
(iii. 2, 3) ; but he does not know any such gods himself (cf. the next 
sentence even), and is continually reminding the heathen that they 
know these gods just as little. 

4 Lit., " as many as possible." 

5 Lit., " in the series of." 

6 Lit., "are." 

7 i.e. M. Terentius Varro, mentioned in the last chapter. 


god differs from another in nothing as respects his divinity -, 1 
nor can that which is one in kind be less or more in its parts 
while its own qualities remain unchanged. 2 Now, as this 
is certain, it follows that they should never have been be- 
gotten, but should be immortal, seeking nothing from with- 
out, and' not drawing any earthly pleasures from the re- 
sources of matter. 

3. So, then, if these things are so, we desire to learn this, 
first, from you — what is the cause, what the reason, that you 
offer them sacrifices ; [and] then, what gain comes to the 
gods themselves from this, and remains to their advantage. 
For whatever is done should have a cause, and should not 
be disjoined from reason, so as to be lost 3 among useless 
works, and tossed about among vain and idle uncertainties. 4 
Do the gods of heaven 5 live on these sacrifices, and must 
materials be supplied to maintain the union of their parts? 
And what man is there so ignorant of what a god is, cer- 
tainly, as to think that they are maintained by any kind of 
nourishment, and that it is the food given to them 6 which 
causes them to live and endure throughout their endless 
immortality ? For whatever is upheld by causes and things 
external to itself, must be mortal and on the way to destruc- 
tion, when anything on which it lives begins to be wanting. 
Again, [it is impossible to suppose that any one believes this], 
because we see that of these things which are brought to 
their altars, nothing is added to and reaches the substance of 
the deities ; for either incense is given, and is lost melting on 
the coals, or the life only of the victim is offered to the gods, 7 

1 Lit., " in that in which he is a god." 

2 Lit., " uniformity of quality being preserved." 

G The MS. and edd. read ut in operibus feratur cassis — "so as to be 
borne among," emended by Hild. and Oehler teratur — " worn away 

4 Lit., "in vain errors of inanity." 

5 The MS. and edd. have here forte — "perchance." 
c Lit., " gift of food." 

7 Or perhaps, simply, "the sacrifice is a living one," animalis est 
hostia. Macrobius, however (Sat. iii. 5), quotes Trebatius as saying 
that there were two kinds of sacrifices, in one of which the entrails were 

310 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book to 

and its blood is licked up by dogs ; or if any flesh is placed 
upon the altars, it is set on fire in like manner, and [is] de- 
stroyed, [and] falls into ashes, — unless perchance the god 
seizes upon the souls of the victims, or snuffs up eagerly the 
fumes and smoke [which rise] from the blazing altars, and 
feeds upon the odours which the burning flesh gives forth, 
still wet with blood, and damp with its former juices. 1 But 
if a god, as is said, has no body, and cannot be touched at 
all, how is it possible that that which has no body should be 
nourished by things pertaining to the body, — that what is 
mortal should support what is immortal, and assist and give 
vitality to that which it cannot touch? This reason for sacri- 
fices is not valid, therefore, as it seems ; nor can it be said by 
any one that sacrifices are kept up for this reason, that the 
deities are nourished by them, and supported by feeding on 

4. If perchance it is not this, 2 are victims not slain in sac- 
rifice to the gods, and cast upon their flaming altars to give 
them 3 some pleasure and delight ? And can any man per- 
suade himself that the gods become mild as they are exhila- 
rated by pleasures, that they long for sensual enjoyment, and, 
like some base creatures, are affected by agreeable sensations, 
and charmed and tickled for the moment by 4 a pleasant- 
ness which soon passes away ? For that which is overcome 
by pleasure must be harassed by its opposite, sorrow ; nor 
[can that be] free from the anxiety of grief, which trembles 

examined that they might disclose the divine will, while in the other the 
life only was consecrated to the deity. This is more precisely stated by 
Servius (JEn. iii. 231), who says that the Tiostia animalis was only slain, 
that in other cases the blood was poured on the altars, that in others 
part of the victim, and in others the whole animal, was burned. It is 
probable, therefore, that Arnobius uses the words here in their technical 
meaning, as the next clause shows that none of the flesh was offered, 
while the blood was allowed to fall to the ground. 

1 i.e. the juices which formerly flowed through the living body. 

2 The heathen opponent is supposed to give up his first reason, that 
the sacrifices provided food for the gods, and to advance this new sug- 
gestion, that they were intended for their gratification merely. 

3 Lit., " for the sake of." 

4 Lit., " with the fleeting tickling of." 

Book vii.] A RNOBIUS AD VERS US GENTES. 3 1 1 

with joy, and is elated capriciously with gladness. 1 But the 
gods should be free from both passions, if we would have 
them to be everlasting, and freed from the weakness of 
mortals. Moreover, every pleasure is, as it were, a kind of 
flattery of the body, and is addressed to the five well-known 
senses ; but if the gods above feel it, 2 they must partake also 
of those bodies through which there is a way to the senses, 
and a door [by which] to receive pleasures. Lastly, what 
pleasure is it to take delight in the slaughter of harmless 
creatures, to have the ears ringing often with their piteous 
bellowings, to see rivers of blood, the life fleeing away with 
the blood, and the secret parts having been laid open, not 
only the intestines to protrude with the excrements, but 
also the heart still bounding with the life left in it, and the 
trembling, palpitating veins in the viscera? We half-savage 
men, nay rather (to say with more candour what it is truer 
and more candid to say), we savages, whom unhappy necessity 
and bad habit have trained to take these as food, are some- 
times moved with pity for them ; we ourselves accuse and 
condemn ourselves when the thing is seen and looked into 
thoroughly, because, neglecting the law which is binding on 
men, we have broken through the bonds which naturally 
united us at the beginning. 3 Will 4 any one believe that the 
gods, [who are] kind, beneficent, gentle, are delighted and 
filled with joy by the slaughter of cattle, if ever they fall and 
expire pitiably before their altars 1 6 And there is no cause, 
then, for pleasure in sacrifices, as we see, nor is there a 
reason why they should be offered, since there is no pleasure 
[afforded by them] ; and if perchance there is some, 6 it has 
been shown that it cannot in any way belong to the gods. 
5. We have next to examine the argument which we hear 

1 Lit., "with the levities of gladnesses." 2 i.e. pleasure. 

3 Naturalis initii consortia. 

4 So the MS. and first ed., according to Oehler, reading cred-e-t, the 
others -i " does." 

5 Lit., "these." 

6 Arnobius says that the sacrifices give no pleasure to any being, or 
at least, if that is not strictly true, that they give none to the gods. 

312 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

continually coming from the lips of the common people, 
and [find] embedded in popular conviction, that sacrifices are 
offered to the gods of heaven for this purpose, that they may 
lay aside their anger and passions, and may be restored to a 
calm and placid tranquillity, the indignation of their fiery 
spirits being assuaged. And if we remember the definition 
which we should always bear steadily in mind, that all agi- 
tating feelings are unknown to the gods, the consequence is, 
a belief 1 that the gods are never angry ; nay, rather, that no 
passion is further from them than that which, approaching 
most nearly to [the spirit of] wild beasts and savage creatures, 
agitates those who suffer it with tempestuous feelings, and 
brings them into danger of destruction. For whatever is 
harassed by any kind of disturbance, 2 is, it is clear, capable 
of suffering, and frail ; that which has been subjected to 
suffering and frailty must be mortal; but anger harasses 
and destroys 8 those who are subject to it : therefore that 
should be called mortal which lias been made subject to the 
emotions of anger. But yet we know that the gods should 
be never-dying, and should possess an immortal nature ; and 
if this is clear and certain, anger has been separated far from 
them and from their state. On no ground, then, is it fitting 
to wish to appease that in the gods above which you see 
cannot suit their blessed state. 

6. But let us allow, as you wish, that the gods are accus- 
tomed to such disturbance, and that sacrifices are offered 
and sacred solemnities performed to calm it, when, then, is 
it fitting that these offices should be made use of, or at what 
time should they be given ? — before they are angry and 
roused, or when they have been moved and displeased 
even? 4 If we must meet them [with sacrifices] before 
[their anger is roused], lest they become enraged, you are 
bringing forward wild beasts to us, not gods, to which it is 

1 So the MS., LB., Oberthiir, Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, reading consec-, 
for which the rest read consen-taneum est credere — "it is fitting to be- 

2 Lit,, " motion of anything." 3 Cf. i. 18. 
4 Lit, " set in indignation^.'' 


customary to toss food, upon which they may rage madly, 
and turn their desire to do harm, lest, having been roused, 
they should rage and burst the barriers of their dens. But 
if these sacrifices are offered to satisfy 1 the gods when 
already fired and burning with rage, I do not inquire, I do 
not consider, whether that happy 2 and sublime greatness of 
spirit which belongs to the deities is disturbed by the offences 
of little men, and wounded if a creature, blind and ever 
treading anions; clouds of ignorance, has committed anv 
blunder, — said [anything] by which their dignity is impaired. 

7. But neither do I demand that this should be said, or 
that I should be told what causes the gods have for their 
anger against men, that having taken offence they must be 
soothed. [I do ask, however,] Did they ever ordain any laws 
for mortals % and was it ever settled by them what it was 
fitting for them to do, or what it was not ? what they should 
pursue, what avoid ; or even by what means they wished 
themselves to be worshipped, so that they might pursue with 
the vengeance of their wrath what was done otherwise than 
they had commanded, and might be disposed, if treated con- 
temptuously, to avenge themselves on the presumptuous and 
transgressors ? As I think, nothing was ever either settled 
or ordained by them, since neither have they been seen, nor 
has it been possible for it to be discerned very clearly 
whether there are any. 3 What justice is there, then, in the 
gods of heaven being angry for any reason with those to 
whom they have neither deigned at any time to show that 
they existed, nor given nor imposed any laws which they 
wished to be honoured by them and perfectly observed 1 4 

8. But this, as I said, I do not mention, but allow it to pass 

1 Lit., " if this satisfaction of sacrifices is offered to." 

2 So the ms. and most edd., reading laeta, for which Ursinus suggested 
lauta — "splendid," and Heraldus elata — " exalted." 

3 It is perhaps possible so to translate the MS. neque si sunt ulli aper- 
tissima potuit cognitione dignosci, retained by Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, 
in which case si sunt ulli must be taken as the subject of the clause. 
The other edd., from regard to the construction, read visi — "nor, if they 
have been seen, has it been possible." 

4 Lit., " kept with inviolable observance." 

314 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

away in silence. This one thing I ask, above all, What reason 
is there if I kill a pig, that a god changes his state of mind, 
and lays aside his angry feelings and frenzy ; that if I con- 
sume a pullet, a calf under his eyes and on his altars, he 
forgets the wrong [which I did to him], and abandons com- 
pletely all sense of displeasure? What passes from this act 1 
to [modify] his resentment ? Or of what service 2 is a goose, 
a goat, or a peacock, that from its blood relief is brought to 
the angry [god] ? Do the gods, then, make insulting them 
a matter of payment ? and as little boys, to [induce them to] 
give up their fits of passion 3 and desist from their wailings, 
get little sparrows, dolls, ponies, puppets, 3 with which they 
may be able to divert themselves, do the immortal gods in 
such wise receive these gifts from you, that for them they 
may lay aside their resentment, and be reconciled to those 
who offended them ? And yet I thought that the gods — if 
only it is right to believe that they are really moved by 
anger — lay aside their anger and resentment, and forgive 
the sins of the guilty, without any price or reward. For 
this belongs specially to deities, to be generous in forgiving, 
and to seek no return for their gifts. 4 But if this cannot be, 
it would be much wiser that they should continue obstinately 
offended, than that they should be softened by being cor- 
rupted with bribes. For the multitude increases of those 
who sin, when there is hope given of paying for their sin ; 
and there is little hesitation to do wrong, when the favour of 
those who pardon [offences] may be bought. 

9. So, if some ox, or any animal you please, which is 
slain to mitigate and appease the fury of the deities, were to 
take a man's voice and speak these 5 words : Is this, then, O 
Jupiter, or whatever god thou art, humane or right, or 
should it be considered at all just, that when another has 

1 Lit., " work." 2 Lit., " remedy." 

3 So Panes seems to be generally understood, i.e. images of Pan used 
as playthings by boys, and very much the same thing as the puppets — 
pupuli — already mentioned. 

4 Lit., " to have liberal pardons and free concessions." 
6 Lit., " in these." 


sinned I should be killed, and that you should allow satis- 
faction to be made to you with my blood, although I never 
did you wrong, never wittingly or unwittingly did violence 
to your divinity and majesty, being, as thou knowest, a dumb 
creature, not departing from 1 the simplicity of my nature, 
nor inclined to be fickle in my 2 manners ? Did I ever cele- 
brate your games with too little reverence and care ? did I 
drag forward a dancer so that thy deity was offended ? did 
I swear falsely by thee ? did I sacrilegiously steal your pro- 
perty and plunder your temples'? did I uproot the most 
sacred groves, or pollute and profane some hallowed places 
by founding private houses ? What, then, is the reason 
that the crime of another is atoned for with my blood, and 
that my life and innocence are made to pay for wickedness 
with which I have nothing to do ? Is it because I am a base 
creature, and am not possessed of reason and wisdom, as 
these declare who call themselves men, and by their ferocity 
make themselves beasts? 3 Did not the same nature both 
beget and form me from the same beginnings ? Is it not 
one breath of life which sways both them and me ? Do I 
not respire and see, and am I not affected by the other 
senses just as they are ? They have livers, lungs, hearts, 
intestines, bellies ; and do not I have as many members ? 
They love their young, and come together to beget children ; 
and do not I both take care to procure offspring, and delight 
in it when it has been begotten ? But they have reason, 
and utter articulate sounds ; and how do they know whether 
I do what I do for my own reasons, and whether that sound 
which I give forth is my kind of words, and is understood 
by us alone ? Ask piety whether it is more just that I 
should be slain, that I should be killed, or that man should 
be pardoned and be safe from punishment for what he has 
done ? Who formed iron into a sword ? was it not man ? 
Who [brought] disaster upon races ; who imposed slavery 
upon nations? was it not man? Who mixed deadly draughts, 
and gave them to his parents, brothers, wives, friends ? was 

1 Lit., " following." 2 Lit., " to varieties of manifold." 

3 Lit., " leap into." 

31G THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

it not man ? Who found out or devised so many forms of 
wickedness, that they can hardly be related in ten thousand 
chronicles of years, or [even] of days ? was it not man ? Is 
not this, then, cruel, monstrous, and savage ? Does it not 
seem to you, O Jupiter, unjust and barbarous that I should 
be killed, that I should be slain, that you may be soothed, 
and the guilty find impunity ? 

It has been established that sacrifices are offered in vain 
for this purpose then, viz. that the angry deities may be 
soothed ; since reason has taught us that the gods are not 
angry at any time, and that they do not wish one thing to be 
destroyed, to be slain for another, or offences against them- 
selves to be annulled by the blood of an innocent creature. 

10. But perhaps some one will say, We give to the gods 
sacrifices and other gifts, that, being made willing in a measure 
to grant our prayers, they may give us prosperity and avert 
from us evil, cause us to live always happily, drive away 
grief truly, [and any evils] which threaten us from acci- 
dental circumstances. This point demands great care ; nor 
is it usual either to hear or to believe what is so easily said. 
For the whole company of the learned will straight way 
swoop upon [us], who, asserting and proving that whatever 
happens, happens according to [the decrees of] fate, snatch 
out of our 1 hands that opinion, and assert that we are putting 
our trust in vain beliefs. Whatever, they will say, has been 
done in the world, is being done, and shall be done, has 
been settled and fixed in time past, and has causes which 
cannot be moved, by means of which events have been 
linked together, and form an unassailable chain of unalter- 
able necessity between the past and the future. If it has 
been determined and fixed what evil or good should befall 
each person, it is already certain ; but if this is certain and 
fixed, there is no room for all the help given by the gods, 
their hatred, [and] favours. For they are just as unable to do 
for you that which cannot be done, as to prevent that from 

1 Lit, " from the hands to us," nobis, the reading of the MS., both 
Roman edd., Gelenius, LB., and Oehler ; for -which the rest give vobis — 
"out of your hands." 


being done which must happen, except that they will be able, 
if they choose, to depreciate somewhat powerfully that belief 
which you entertain, so that they 1 say that even the gods 
themselves are worshipped by you in vain, and that the sup- 
plications with which you address them are superfluous. For 
as they are unable to turn aside the course [of events], and 
change what has been appointed by fate, what reason, what 
cause, is there to wish to weary and deafen the ears of those 
in whose help you cannot trust at your utmost need ! 

11. Lastly, if the gods drive away sorrow and grief, if 
they bestow joy and pleasure, how 2 are there in the world 
so many 3 and so wretched men, whence [come] so many un- 
happy ones, who lead a life of tears in the meanest condition? 
Why are not those free from calamity who every moment, 
every instant, load and heap up the altars with sacrifices ? 
Do we not see that some of them (say [the learned]) are the 
seats of diseases, the light of their eyes quenched, and their 
ears stopped, that they cannot move with their feet, that 
they live [mere] trunks without [the use of] their hands, 
that they are swallowed up, overwhelmed, [and] destroyed 
by conflagrations, shipwrecks, and disasters; 4 that, having 
been stripped of immense fortunes, they support themselves 
by labouring for hire, [and] beg for alms at last ; that they 
are exiled, proscribed, always in the midst of sorrow, over- 
come by the loss of children, [and] harassed by other mis- 
fortunes, the kinds and forms of which no enumeration can 
comprehend % But assuredly this w r ould not occur if the 
gods, who had been laid under obligation, were able to ward 
off, to turn aside, those evils from those who merited [this 
favour]. But now, because in these mishaps there is no 
room [for the interference of the gods], but all things are 
brought about 5 by inevitable necessity, the appointed course 
of events goes on and accomplishes that which has been once 

12. Or the £ods of heaven should be said to be un orate- 

1 i.e. the learned men referred to above. 2 Lit., " whence." 
3 Lit., " so innumerable." 4 Lit., "ruins." 
6 So Canterus suggests conf-iunt for the MS. confic "bring about." 

318 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

ful if, while they have power to prevent it, they suffer an 
unhappy race to be involved in so many hardships and disas- 
ters. But perhaps they may say something of importance 
[in answer to this], and not such as should be received by 
deceitful, fickle, and scornful ears. This point, however, 
because it would require too tedious and prolix discussion, 1 
we hurry past unexplained and untouched, content to have 
stated this alone, that you give to your gods dishonourable 
reputations if you assert that on no other condition do they 
bestow blessings and turn away what is injurious, except 
they have been first bought over with the blood of she-goats 
and sheep, and with the other things which are put upon 
their altars. For it is not fitting, in the first place, that the 
power of the deities and the surpassing eminence of the 
celestials should be believed to keep their favours on sale, 
first to receive [a price], and then to bestow [them] ; [and] 
then, which is much more unseemly, that they aid no one 
unless they receive [their demands], and that they suffer the 
most wretched to undergo whatever perils may befall them, 2 
while they could ward [these] off, and come to their aid. If 
of two who are sacrificing, one is a scoundrel, 3 and rich, the 
other of small fortune, but worthy of praise for his integrity 
and goodness, — if the former should slay a hundred oxen, 
and as many ewes with their lambkins, the poor man burn a 
little incense, and a small piece of some odorous substance, — 
will it not follow that it should be believed that, if only the 
deities bestow nothing except when rewards are first offered, 
they will give their favour 4 to the rich man, turn their eyes 
away from the poor, whose gifts were restricted not by his 

1 Lit., " it is a thing of long and much speech." 

2 Lit., "the fortunes of perils." 

3 The MS. reading is hoc est unus, corrected lioncstus — " honourable " 
(which makes the comparison pointless, because there is no reason why 
a rich man, if good, should not be succoured as well as a poor), in all 
edd., except Oehler, who reads seclestus, which departs too far from the 
MS. Perhaps we should read, as above, inhonestus. 

4 So the MS., LB., Hild., and Oehler, and the other edd., adding et 
auxilium — " and help." 


spirit, but by the scantiness of his means? 1 For where the 
giver is venal and mercenary, there it must needs be that 
favour is granted according to the greatness of the gift [by 
which it is purchased], and that a favourable decision is 
given to him from whom 2 far the greater reward and bribe, 
[though this be] shameful, flows to him who gives it. 3 What 
if two nations, on the other hand, arrayed against each other 
in war, enriched the altars of the gods with equal sacrifices, 
and were to demand that their power and help should be 
given to them, the one against the other : must it not, again, 
be believed that, if they are persuaded to be of service by 
rewards, they are at a loss between both sides, are struck 
motionless, and do not perceive what to do, since they under- 
stand that their favour has been pledged by the acceptance 
of the sacrifices? For either they will give assistance to 
this side and to that, which is impossible, for [in that case] 
they will fight themselves against themselves, strive against 
their own favour and wishes ; or they will do nothing to aid 
either nation 4 after the price [of their aid] has been paid 
and received, which is very wicked. All this infamy, there- 
fore, should be removed far from the gods ; nor should it be 
said at all that they are won over by rewards and payments 
to confer blessings, and remove what is disagreeable, if only 
they are true gods, and worthy to be ranked under this name. 
For either whatever happens, happens inevitably, and there 
is no place in the gods for ambition and favour ; or if fate 
is excluded and got rid of, it does not belong to the celestial 
dignity to sell the boon of its services, 5 and the conferring of 
its bounties. 

13. We have shown sufficiently, as I suppose, that victims, 
and the things which go along with them, are offered in vain 

1 Lit., "whom not his mind, but the necessity of his property, made 

2 Lit., " inclines thither whence." 3 i.e. the decision. 

4 Lit., " both nations." 

5 Lit., " the favours of good work," honi operisfavor-es et, the reading 
of Hild. and Oehler (other edd. -em— "the favour of its service") for 
MS. J above sed. 

320 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vil 

to the immortal gods, because they are neither nourished by 
them, nor feel any pleasure, nor lay aside their anger and 
resentment, so as either to give good fortune, or to drive 
away and avert the opposite. We have now to examine 
that point also which has been usually asserted by some, and 
applied to forms of ceremony. For they say that these 
sacred rites were instituted to do honour to the gods of 
heaven, and that these things which they do, they do to 
show [them] honour, and to magnify the powers of the 
deities by them. What if they were to say, in like manner, 
that they keep awake and sleep, walk about, stand still, write 
something, and read, to give honour to the gods, and make 
them more glorious'in majesty? For what substance is there 
added to them from the blood of cattle, and from the other 
things which are prepared in sacrificing? what power is 
given and added to them? For all honour, which is said 
to be offered by any one, and to be yielded to reverence for 
a greater being, is of a kind having reference to the other ; 
and consists of two parts, of the concession of the giver, and 
the increase of honour of the receiver. As, if any one, on 
seeing a man famed for his very great power * and authority, 
were to make way for him, to stand up, to uncover his head, 
and leap down from his carriage, then, bending forward to 
salute him with slavish servility and 2 trembling agitation, I 
see what is aimed at in showing such respect : by the bow- 
ing down of the one, very great [honour] is given to the 
other, and he is made to appear great whom the respect of 
an inferior exalts and places above his own rank. 3 

14. But all this conceding and ascribing of honour about 
which we are speaking are met with among men alone, 
whom their natural weakness and love of standing above 
their fellows 4 teach to delight in arrogance, and in being 
preferred above others. But, I ask, where is there room 

1 Lit., " of most powerful name." 

2 Lit, " imitating a slave's servility " — ancillatum, the emendation 
of Hemsterhuis, adopted by Orelli, Hild., and Oehler for the unin- 
telligible MS. ancillarum. 

G Lit,, " things." 4 Lit,, " in higher [places]." 


for honour among the gods, or what greater exaltation is 
found to be civen 1 to them by piling up 2 sacrifices? Do 
they become more venerable, more powerful, when cattle are 
sacrificed [to them] ? is there anything added to them from 
this ? or do they begin to be more [truly] gods, their divinity 
being increased ? And yet I consider it almost an insult, nay, 
an insult altogether, when it is said that a god is honoured 
by a man, and exalted by the offering of some gift. For if 
honour increases and augments the grandeur of him to whom 
it is given, it follows that a deity becomes greater by means 
of the man from whom he has received the gift, and the 
honour conferred on him ; and thus the matter is brought 
to this issue, that the god who is exalted by human honours 
is the inferior, while, on the other hand, the man who in- 
creases the power of a deity [is] his superior. 3 

15. What then ! some one will say, do you think that no 
honour should be given to the gods at all I If you propose 
to us gods such as they should be if they do exist, and such 
as 4 we feel that we all mean when we mention 5 that name, 
how can we but give them even the greatest honour, since 
we have been taught by the commands which have especial 
power over us, 6 to pay honour to all men even, of whatever 
rank, of whatever condition they may be ? What, pray, 
[you ask], is this very great honour I One much more in 

1 Lit., " what eminences is it found to be added," addier. So Hild. 
and Oehler for the reading of MS., first four edd., and Oberthiir addere 
— "to add," emended in rest from margin of Ursinus accedere, much as 

2 So the MS., reading conjectionibus, which is retained in no edd., 
although its primary meaning is exactly what the sense here requires. 

3 The last clause was omitted in first four edd. and Elm., and was 
inserted from the MS. by Meursius. 

4 Lit., "whom." 

5 Lit., " say in the proclamation of." 

6 Lit., "more powerful commands," i.e. by Christ's injunctions. It 
seems hardly possible that any one should suppose that there is here any 
reference to Christ's command to his disciples not to exercise lordship 
over each other, yet Orelli thinks that there is perhaps a reference to 
Mark x. 42, 43. If a particular reference were intended, we might with 
more reason find it in 1 Pet. ii. 17, " Honour all men." 


322 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

accordance with duty than is paid by you, and directed to 1 a 
more powerful race, [we reply]. Tell us, you say, in the first 
place, what is an opinion worthy of the gods, right and honour- 
able, and not blameworthy from its being made unseemly by 
something infamous ! [We reply, one such], that you be- 
lieve that they neither have any likeness to man, nor look for 
anything which is outside of them and comes from without ; 
then — and this has been said pretty frequently — that they do 
not burn with the fires of anger, that they do not give them- 
selves up passionately to sensual pleasure, that they are not 
bribed to be of service, that they are not tempted to injure 
[our enemies], that they do not sell their kindness and favour, 
that they do not rejoice in having honour heaped on them, 
that they are not indignant and vexed if it is not given ; 
but — and this belongs to the divine — that by their own power 
they know themselves, and that they do not rate themselves 
by the obsequiousness of others. And yet, that we may see 
the nature of what is said, what kind of honour is this, to 
bind a wether, a ram, a bull before the face of a god, and 
slay them in his sight ? What kind of honour is it to invite 
a god to [a banquet of] blood, which you see him take and 
share in with dogs ? What kind of honour is it, having set 
on fire piles of wood, to hide the heavens with smoke, and 
darken with gloomy blackness the images of the gods ? But 
if it seems good to you that these actions should be con- 
sidered in themselves, 2 not judged of according to your pre- 
judices, [you will find that] those altars of which you speak, 
and even those beautiful ones which you dedicate to the 
superior gods, 3 are places for burning the unhappy race of 
animals, funeral pyres, and mounds built for a most un- 
seemly office, and formed to be filled with corruption. 

16. What say you, O you ! is that foul smell, then, 

which is given forth and emitted by burning hides, by bones, 
by bristles, by the fleeces of lambs, and the feathers of fowls, 
— [is that] a favour and an honour to the deity ? and are 

1 Lit., "established in." 

2 Lit., "weighed by their own force," vi. 

3 i.e. altariaque lixe pulchra. 


the deities honoured by this, to whose temples, when you 
arrange to go, you come 1 cleansed from all pollution, washed, 
and perfectly 2 pure ? And what can be more polluted than 
these, more unhappy, 3 more debased, than if their senses are 
naturally such that they are fond of what is so cruel, and 
take delight in foul smells which, when inhaled with the 
breath, even those who sacrifice cannot bear, and [certainly] 
not a delicate 4 nose ? But if you think that the gods of 
heaven are honoured by the blood of living creatures [being 
offered to them], why do you not 5 sacrifice to them both 
mules, and elephants, and asses I why not dogs also, bears, 
and foxes, camels, and hyaenas, and lions? And as birds 
also are counted victims by you, why do you not [sacrifice] 
vultures, eagles, storks, falcons, hawks, ravens, sparrow- 
hawks, owls, and, along with them, salamanders, water- 
snakes, vipers, tarantulas I For indeed there is both blood 
in these, and they are in like manner moved by the breath 
of life. What is there more artistic in the former kind [of 
sacrifices], or less ingenious in the latter, that these do not 
add to and increase the grandeur of the gods ? Because, says 
my opponent, it is right to honour the gods of heaven with 
those things by which we are ourselves nourished and sus- 
tained, and live ; which also they have, in their divine benevo- 
lence, deigned to give to us for food. But the same gods 
have given to you both cumin, cress, turnips, onions, parsley, 
esculent thistles, radishes, gourds, rue, mint, basil, flea-bane, 

1 Lit., " you show yourselves," przestatis. 

2 Lit., "most." So Tibullus (Eleg. ii. 1, 13) : "Pure things please 
the gods. Come (i.e. to the sacrifice) with clean garments, and with 
clean hands take water from the fountain," — perfect cleanliness being 
scrupulously insisted on. 

3 This Heraldus explains as "of worse omen," and Oehler as " more 

4 Ingenuse, i.e. such as any respectable person has. 

5 To this the commentators have replied, that mules, asses, and dogs 
were sacrificed to certain deities. We must either admit that Arnobius 
has here fallen into error, or suppose that he refers merely to the animals 
which were usually slain, or find a reason for his neglecting it in the 
circumstances of each sacrifice. 

324 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

and chives, and commanded tliem to be used by you as part 
of your food ; why, then, do you not put these too upon the 
altars, and scatter wild-marjoram, with which oxen are*fed, 
over them all, and mix amongst [them] onions with their 
pungent flavour? 

17. Lo, if dogs — for a case must be imagined, in order that 
things may be seen more clearly — if dogs, I say, and asses, 
and along with them water-wagtails, if the twittering swallows, 
and pigs also, having acquired some of the feelings of men, 
were to think and suppose that you were gods, and to pro- 
pose to offer sacrifices in your honour, not of other things 
and substances, but [of those] with which they are wont to 
be nourished and supported, according to their natural incli- 
nation, — we ask you to say whether you would consider this 
an honour, or rather a most outrageous affront, when the 
swallows slew and consecrated flies to you, the water-wagtails 
ants ; when the asses put hay upon your altars, and poured 
out libations of chaff; when the dogs placed bones, and 
burned human excrements [at your shrines] ; when, lastly, 
the pigs poured out before you a horrid mess, taken from 
their frightful hog-pools and filthy maws ? Would you not 
in this case, then, be inflamed with rage that your greatness 
was treated with contumely, and account it an atrocious 
wrong that you were greeted with filth ? But, [you reply], 
you honour the gods with the carcasses of bulls, and by slay- 
ing 1 other living creatures. And in what respect does this 
differ from that, since these [sacrifices], also, if they are not 
yet, will nevertheless soon be, dung, and will become rotten 
after a very short time has passed % Finally, cease to place 
fire upon 2 your altars, then indeed you will 3 see that con- 
secrated flesh of bulls, with which you magnify the honour 
of the gods, swelling and heaving with worms, tainting and 
corrupting the atmosphere, and infecting the neighbouring 
districts with unwholesome smells. Now, if the gods were 

1 Lit., " by slaughters of," cxdlhus. 

2 Lit., " under," i.e. under the sacrifices on your altars. 

3 So all edd., reading cerne-, except both Roman edd., Hild., and 
Oehler, who retain the MS. cerni-tis — "you see." 


to enjoin you to turn these things 1 to your own account, 
to make your meals from them 2 in the usual way, you would 
flee to a distance, and, execrating the smell, would beg par- 
don from the gods, and bind yourselves by oath never [again] 
to offer such sacrifices to them. Is not this conduct of yours 
mockery, then? is it not to confess, to make known that you 
do not know what a deity is, nor to what power the meaning 
and title of this name should be given and applied ? Do you 
give new dignity to the gods by new kinds of food ? do you 
honour them with savours and juices, and because those things 
which nourish you are pleasing and grateful to you? do you 
believe that the gods also flock up to [enjoy] their pleasant 
taste, and, just as barking dogs, lay aside their fierceness 
for mouthfuls, and pretty often fawn upon those who hold 
[these] out? 

18. And as we are now speaking of the animals sacri- 
ficed, what cause, what reason is there, that while the im- 
mortal gods (for, so far as we are concerned, they may all 
be [gods] who are believed to be so) are of one mind, or 
should be of one nature, kind, and character, all are not 
appeased with all the victims, but certain [deities] with 
certain [animals], according to the sacrificial laws? For 
what cause is there (to repeat the same question) that that 
deity should be honoured with bulls, another with kids or 
sheep, this one w r ith sucking pigs, the other with unshorn 
lambs, this one with virgin heifers, that one with horned 
goats, this with barren cows, but that with teeming 3 swine, 
this with white, that with dusky 4 [victims], one with female, 

1 In translating thus, it has been attempted to adhere as closely as 
possible to the MS. reading (according to Crusius) qua si — corrected, as 
above, qux in LB. ; but it is by no means certain that further changes 
should not be made. 

2 Lit., "prepare luncheons and dinners thence," i.e. from the putre- 
fying carcasses. 

3 The MS. and first four edd. read ingentibus scrofis — " with huge 
breeding swine," changed by rest, as above, indent-, from the margin of 

4 Or "gloomy," tetris, the reading of MS. and all edd. since LB., for 
which earlier edd. give atris — " black." 

326 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

the other, on the contrary, with male animals? For if vic- 
tims are slain in sacrifice to the gods, to do them honour and 
show reverence for them, what does it matter, or what differ- 
ence is there with the life of what animal this debt is paid, 
their anger and resentment put away ? Or is the blood of 
one victim less grateful and pleasing to one god, while the 
other's fills him with pleasure and joy ? or, as is usually done, 
does that [deity] abstain from the flesh of goats because of 
some reverential and religious scruple, another turn with 
disgust from pork, while to this mutton stinks ? and does this 
one avoid tough ox-beef that he may not overtax his weak 
stomach, and choose tender 1 sucklings that he may digest 
them more speedily ? 

19. But you err, says [my opponent], and fall into mis- 
takes ; for in sacrificing female victims to the female deities, 
males to the male [deities], there is a hidden and very 2 
secret reason, and one beyond the reach of the mass. I do 
not inquire, I do not demand, what the sacrificial laws teach 
or contain ; but if reason has demonstrated, 3 and truth de- 
clared, that among the gods there is no difference of species, 
and that they are not distinguished by any sexes, must not 
all these reasonings be set at naught, and be proved, be 
found to have been believed under the most foolish halluci- 
nations ? I will not bring forward the opinions' of wise 
men, who cannot restrain their laughter when they hear 
distinctions of sex attributed to the immortal gods: I ask 
of each man whether he himself believes in his own mind, 
and persuades himself that the race of the gods is [so] dis- 
tinguished that they are male and female, and have been 
formed with members arranged suitably for the begetting of 
young ? 

But if the laws of the sacrifices enjoin that like sexes 
should be sacrificed to like, that is, female [victims] to the 
female [gods], male victims, on the contrary, to the male 
gods, what relation is there in the colours, so that it is right 

1 Lit., " the tenderness of." 2 Lit., " more." 

3 So the MS., Elm., LB., Orelli, Hild., and Oehler, reading vicerit, for 
which the others read jusser it — " has bidden." 


and fitting that to these white, to those dark, even the blackest 
victims are slain? Because, says [my opponent], to the 
gods above, and [those] who have power to give favourable 
omens, 1 the cheerful colour is acceptable and propitious from 
the pleasant appearance of pure white; while, on the con- 
trary, to the sinister deities, and those who inhabit the in- 
fernal seats, a dusky colour is more pleasing, and [one] 
tinged with gloomy hues. But if, again, the reasoning holds 
good, that the infernal regions are an utterly vain and empty 
name, 2 and that underneath the earth there are no Plutonian 
realms and abodes, this, too, must nullify your ideas about 
black cattle and gods under the ground. Because, if there 
are no infernal regions, of necessity there are no dii Manium 
also. For how is it possible that, while there are no regions, 
there should be said to be any who inhabit them ? 

20. But let us agree, as you wish, that there are both 
infernal regions and Manes, and that some gods or other 
dwell in these by no means favourable to men, and presid- 
ing over misfortunes ; and what cause, what reason is there, 
that black victims, even 3 of the darkest hue, should be 
brought to their altars? Because dark things suit dark, 
and gloomy things are pleasing to similar beings. "What 
then I Do you not see (that we, too, may joke with you 
stupidly, and just as you do yourselves 4 ) that the flesh of 
the victims is not black, 5 [nor] their bones, teeth, fat, the 
bowels, with 6 the brains, and the soft marrow in the bones ! 
But the fleeces are jet-black, and the bristles of the creatures 

1 Lit., "prevailing with favourableness of omens," ominum, for which 
the MS. and first four edd. read 7i " of men." 

2 That Arnobius had good reason to appeal to this scepticism as a fact, 
is evident from the lines of Juvenal (ii. 149-152) : "Not even children 
believe that there are any Manes and subterranean realms." 

3 Lit., " and." Immediately after, the MS. is corrected in later writing 
color-es (for -is) — " and the darkest colours." 

4 Similiter. This is certainly a suspicious reading, but Arnobius in- 
dulges occasionally in similar vague expressions. 

5 Lit., "is white." 

6 Or, very probably, " the membranes with (i.e. enclosing) the brains," 
omenta cum cerebris. 

32S THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

are jet-black. Do yon, then, sacrifice to the gods only wool 
and little bristles torn from the victims ? Do you leave the 
wretched creatures, despoiled it may be, and shorn, to draw the 
breath of heaven, and rest in perfect innocence upon their feed- 
ing-grounds ? But if you think that those things are pleasing 
to the infernal gods which are black and of a gloomy colour, 
why do you not take care that all the other things which it 
is customary to place upon their sacrifices should be black, 
and smoked, and horrible in colour ? Dye the incense if it 
is offered, the salted grits, and all the libations without ex- 
ception. Into the milk, oil, blood, pour soot and ashes, that 
this may lose its purple hue, that the others may become 
ghastly. But if you have no scruple in introducing some 
things which are white and retain their brightness, you 
yourselves do away with your own religious scruples and 
reasonings, while you do not maintain any single and uni- 
versal rule in performing the sacred rites. 

21. But this, too, it is fitting that we should here learn 
from you : If a goat be slain to Jupiter, which is usually 
sacrificed to father Liber and Mercury, 1 or if the barren 
heifer be sacrificed to Unxia, which you give to Proserpine, 
by what usage and rule is it determined what crime there is 
in this, what wickedness or guilt has been contracted, since 
it makes no difference to the worship [offered to the deity] 
what animal it is with whose head the honour is paid which 
you owe ? It is not lawful, says [my opponent], that these 
things should be confounded, and it is no small crime to 
throw the ceremonies of the rites and the mode of expiation 
into confusion. Explain the reason, I beg. Because it is 
right to consecrate victims of a certain kind to certain 
deities, and that certain forms of supplication should be also 
adopted. And what, again, is the reason that it is right to 
consecrate victims of a certain kind to certain deities, and 
that certain forms of supplication should be also adopted, 
for this very rightfulness should have its own cause, and 
spring, be derived from certain reasons? Are you going 

1 Goats were sacrificed to Bacchus, but not, so far as is kncwn, to 
Mercury. Cf. c. 16, p. 323, n. 5. 


to speak about antiquity and custom? [If so], you relate 
to me merely the opinions of men, and the inventions of a 
blind creature : but I, when I request a reason to be brought 
forward to me, wish to hear either that something has fallen 
from heaven, or (which the subject rather requires) what 
relation Jupiter has to a bull's blood that it should be offered 
in sacrifice to him, not to Mercury [or] Liber. Or what are 
the natural properties of a goat, that they again should be 
suited to these gods, should not be adapted to the sacrifices 
of Jupiter? Has a partition of the animals been made 
amongst the gods? Has some contract been made and 
agreed to, so that 1 it is fitting that this one should hold 
himself back from the victim which belongs to that, that the 
other should cease 2 to claim as his own the blood which 
belongs to another? Or, as envious boys, are they unwilling 
to allow others to have a share in enjoying the cattle pre- 
sented to them ? or, as is reported to be done by races which 
differ greatly in manners, are the same things which by one 
party are considered fit for eating, rejected as food by others ? 
22. If, then, these things are vain, and are not supported 
by any reason, the very offering 3 of sacrifices also is idle. 
For how can that which follows have a suitable cause, when 
that very first [statement] from which the second flows is 
found to be utterly idle and vain, and established on no 
solid basis? To mother Earth, they say, is sacrificed a 
teeming 4 and pregnant sow; but to the virgin Minerva is 
slain a virgin calf, never forced 5 by the goad to attempt 
any labour. But yet we think that neither should a virgin 
have been sacrificed to a virgin, that the virginity might not 
be violated in the brute, for which the goddess is especially 

1 Lit., " by the paction of some transaction is it," etc. 

2 So all except both Soman edd., which retain the MS. reading desi-d- 
cret (corrected -n- by Gelenius) — " wish." 

3 So the MS., Hild., and Oehler, reading d-atio, approved of by 
Stewechius also. The others read r " reasoning on behalf." 

4 Inci-ens, so corrected in the margin of Ursinus for MS. ing 

11 huge." Cf. ch. 18, p. 325, n. 3. 

5 The MS. reads excitata conalus (according to Hild.) ; corrected, as 
above, by the insertion of ad. 

330 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

esteemed; nor [should] gravid and pregnant [victims have 
been sacrificed] to the Earth from respect for its fruitf ulness, 
which 1 we all desire and wish to go on always in irrepressible 
fertility. 2 For if because the Tritonian [goddess] is a virgin 
it is therefore fitting that virgin victims be sacrificed to her, 
and [if] because the Earth is a mother she is in like manner 
to be entertained with gravid swine, then also Apollo [should 
be honoured] by the sacrifice of musicians because he is a 
musician ; .ZEsculapius, because he is a physician, by the 
sacrifice of physicians ; and because he is an artificer, Vulcan 
by the sacrifice of artificers; and because Mercury is elo- 
quent, sacrifice should be made to him with the eloquent 
and most fluent. But if it is madness to say this, or, to 
speak with moderation, nonsense, that shows much greater 
madness to slaughter pregnant [swine] to the Earth be- 
cause she is even more prolific; pure and virgin [heifers] to 
Minerva because she is pure, of unviolated virginity. 

23. For as to that which we hear said by you, that some 
of the gods are good, that others, on the contrary, are bad, 
and rather inclined to indulge in wanton mischief, 3 and that 
the usual rites are paid to the one party that they may show 
favour, but to the others that they may not do you harm, — 
with what reason this is said, we confess that we cannot 
understand. For to say that the gods are most benevolent, 
and have gentle dispositions, is not only pious and religious, 
but also true ; but that they are evil and sinister, should by 
no means be listened to, inasmuch as that divine power has 
been far removed and separated from the disposition which 
does harm. 4 But whatever can occasion calamity, it must 
first be seen what it is, and [then] it should be removed very 
far from the name of deity. 

1 Quam, i.e. the earth. 

2 Singularly enough, for fecunditate Oberthiir reads virginitate — "in- 
extinguishable virginity," which is by no means universally desired in 
the earth. Orelli, as usual, copies without remark the mistake of his 

3 Lit., " more prompt to lust of hurting." 

4 Lit., " nature of hurting." 


Then, [supposing] that we should agree with you that the 
gods promote good fortune and calamity, not even in this 
case is there any reason why you should allure some of them 
to grant you prosperity, and, on the other hand, coax others 
with sacrifices and rewards not to do you harm. First, 
because the good gods cannot act badly, even if they have 
been worshipped with no honour, — for whatever is mild and 
placid by nature, is separated widely from the practice and 
devising of mischief ; while the bad knows not to restrain 
his ferocity, although he should be enticed [to do so] with a 
thousand flocks and a thousand altars. For neither can 
bitterness change itself into sweetness, dryness into moisture, 
the heat of fire into cold, or what is contrary to anything 
take and change into its own nature that which is its 
opposite. So that, if you should stroke a viper with your 
hand, or caress a poisonous scorpion, the former will attack 
you with its fangs, the latter, drawing itself together, will 
fix its sting [in you] ; and your caressing will be of no avail, 
since both creatures are excited to do mischief, not by the 
stings of rage, but by a certain peculiarity of their nature. 
It is thus of no avail to wish to deserve well of the sinister 
deities by means of sacrifices, since, whether you do this, or 
on the contrary do not, they follow their own nature, and 
by inborn laws and a kind of necessity are led to those 
things, [to do] which * they were made. Moreover, in this 
way 2 both [kinds of] gods cease to possess their own powers, 
and to retain their own characters. For if the good are 
worshipped that they may be favourable, and supplication 
is made in the same way to the others, on the contrary, 
that they may not be injurious, it follows that it should 
be understood that the propitious [deities] will show no 
favour if they receive no gifts, and become bad instead of 

1 The MS. reads adea qusefacti sunt, understood seemingly as above by 
the edd., by supplying ad before qux. Oehler, however, proposes quia 
— " because they were made [for them]." The reading must be regarded 
as doubtful. 

2 i.e. if sacrifices avail to counteract the malevolent dispositions of the 

332 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

good ; * while, on the contrary, the bad, if they receive [offer- 
ings], will lay aside their mischievous disposition, and become 
thereafter good : and thus it is brought to this issue, that 
neither are these propitious, nor are those sinister ; or, which 
is impossible, both are propitious, and both again sinister. 

24. Be it so ; let it be conceded that [these] most unfor- 
tunate cattle are not sacrificed in the temples of the gods 
without some religious obligation, and that what has been 
done in accordance with usage and custom possesses some 
rational ground : but if it seems a great and grand thing to 
slay bulls to the gods, and to burn in [sacrifice] the flesh of 
animals whole and entire, what is the meaning of these 
relics connected with the arts of the Magi which the ponti- 
fical mysteries have restored to a place among the secret laws 
of the sacred rites, and have mixed up with religious affairs? 
What, I say, is the meaning of these things, apexaones, hircice, 
silicemia, longavi, which are names and kinds of sausages, 2 
some stuffed with goats' blood, 3 others with minced liver? 
What [is the meaning of] tcedce, ncenice, offa?, not those used 
by the common people, but those named and called offce 
penitcv? — of which the first 4 is fat cut into very small pieces, 
as dainties 5 are; that which has been placed second is the 
extension of the gut by which the excrements are given off 
after being drained of all their nourishing juices; while the 
off a penita is a beast's tail cut off with a morsel of flesh. 
What [is the meaning of] polimina, omenta, palasea, or, as 
some call it, plasea^ — of which that named omentum is a 
certain part enclosed by which the reservoirs of the belly are 

1 Lit., " these." This clause, omitted by Oberthiir, is also omitted 
without remark by Orelli. 

2 So the edd., reading fnrciminum for the MS. facinorum, corrected by 
Hild. fartorum — " of stuffings." Throughout this passage hardly one 
of the names of these sacrificial dainties is generally agreed upon ; as 
many are met with nowhere else, the MS. has been adhered to strictly. 

3 i.e. probably the hircix : of the others, silicernia seem to have been 
put on the table at funerals. 

4 i.e. tseda. 

5 So Salmasius and Meursius corrected the MS. catillaminu-a-m by 


kept within bounds; the plasea is an ox's tail 1 besmeared 
with flour and blood ; the polimina, again, are those parts 
which we with more decency call pinoles, — by the vulgar, how- 
ever, they are usually termed testes. What [is the meaning 
of] fitillct) frumen, africia^ gratilla y catumeum, cumspolium, 
cubula ? — of which the first two are names of species of pot- 
tage, but differing in kind and quality ; while the series [of 
names] which follows denotes consecrated cakes, for they 
are not shaped in one and the same way. For we do not 
choose to mention the caro strebula which is taken from the 
haunches of bulls, the roasted pieces of meat which are 
spitted, the intestines first heated, and baked on glowing 
coals, nor, finally, the pickles, 2 which are made by mixing 
four kinds of fruit. In like manner, [we do not choose to 
mention] the fendicce, which also are the hirce* which the lan- 
guage of the mob, when it speaks, usually terms ilia ; 4 nor, 
in the same way, the cerumncef which are the first part of the 
gullet, 6 where ruminating animals are accustomed to send 
down their food and bring it back again ; nor the magmenta, 7 
augmina, and thousand other kinds of sausages or pottages 
which you have given unintelligible names to, and have 
caused to be more revered by common people. 

25. For if whatever is done by men, and especially in re- 
ligion, should have its causes, — and nothing should be done 
without a reason in all that men do and perform, — tell us 
and say what is the cause, what the reason, that these things 

1 i.e. tail-piece. 

2 Salsamina, by which is perhaps meant the grits and salt cast on the 
victim ; but if so, Arnobius is at variance with Servius (Virgil, Ed. viii. 
81), who expressly states that these were of spelt mixed only with salt ; 
while there is no trace elsewhere of a different usage. 

3 The first four edd. retain the unintelligible MS. dirm. 

4 i.e. the entrails. The MS., first four edd., and Elm. read ilia. 

5 So the MS., LB., Oberthur, Orelli, Hild., and Oehler ; but xrumnx is 
found in no other passage with this meaning. 

6 Lit., " first heads in gullets." 

7 By this, and the word which follows, we know from the etymology 
that " offerings " to the gods must be meant, but we know nothing 

334 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

also are given to the gods and burned upon their sacred 
altars? For here we delay, [constrained] most urgently [to 
wait] for this cause, we pause, we stand fast, desiring to 
learn what a god has to do with pottage, with cakes, with 
different [kinds of] stuffing prepared in manifold ways, and 
with different ingredients? Are the deities affected by 
splendid dinners or luncheons, so that it is fitting to devise 
for them feasts without number ? Are they troubled by the 
loathings of their stomachs, and is variety of flavours sought 
for to get rid of their aversion, so that there is set before 
them meat at one time roasted, at another raw, and at an- 
other half cooked and half raw ? But if the gods like to 
receive all these parts which you term prcesicice, 1 and if these 
gratify them with any sense of pleasure or delight, what pre- 
vents, what hinders you from laying all these upon [their 
altars] at once with the whole animals? What cause, what 
reason is there that the haunch-piece 2 by itself, the gullet, 
the tail, and the tail-piece 3 separately, the entrails only, and 
the membrane 4 alone, should be brought to do them honour? 
Are the gods of heaven moved by various condiments? 
After stuffing themselves with sumptuous and ample din- 
ners, do they, as is usually done, take these little bits as 
sweet dainties, not to appease their hunger, but to rouse their 
wearied palates, 5 and excite in themselves a perfectly voracious 
appetite ? O wonderful greatness of the gods, comprehended 
by no men, understood by no creatures! if indeed their 
favours are bought with the testicles and gullets of beasts, 
and if they do not lay aside their anger and resentment, 
unless they see the entrails 6 prepared and offce bought and 
burned upon their altars. 

26. We have now to say a few words about incense and 
wine, for these, too, are connected and mixed up with your 

1 i.e. cut off for sacrifice. 2 Caro strebula. 3 Plasea. 

4 The MS. reads unintelligibly nomen qiur, corrected by Gelenius omen- 
tum, as above. 

5 Lit., " admonish the ease of the palate ;" a correction of Salmasius. 
by omitting a from the MS. palali>a admoneant. 

6 Nasni%. 


ceremonies, 1 and are used largely in your religious acts. And, 
first, with respect to that very incense which you use, we ask 
this of you particularly, whence or at what time you have 
been able to become acquainted with it, and to know it, so 
that you have just reason to think that it is either worthy to 
be given to the gods, or most agreeable to their desires. For 
it is almost a novelty ; and there is no endless succession of 
years since it began to be known in these parts, and won its 
way into the shrines of the gods. For neither in the heroic 
ages, as it is believed and declared, was it known what in- 
cense was, as is proved by the ancient writers, in whose 
books is found no mention 2 of it ; nor was Etruria, the 
parent and mother of superstition, acquainted with its fame 
and renown, as the rites of the chapels prove; nor was it 
used by any one in offering sacrifice during the four hundred 
years in which Alba flourished ; nor did even Romulus or 
Numa, [who was] skilful in devising new ceremonies, know 
either of its existence or growth, as the sacred grits 3 show 
with which it was customary that the usual sacrifices should 
be performed. Whence, therefore, did its use begin to be 
adopted ? or what [desire of] novelty assailed the old and 
ancient custom, so that that which was not needed for so 
many ages took the first place in the ceremonies ? For if 
without incense the performance of a religious service is im- 
perfect, and if a quantity of it is necessary to make the celes- 
tials gentle and propitious to men, the ancients fell into sin, 
nay rather, their whole life was full of guilt, for they care- 
lessly neglected to offer that which was most fitted to give 
pleasure to the gods. But if in ancient times neither men 
nor gods sought for this incense, it is proved that to-day 
also that is offered uselessly and in vain which antiquity did 
not believe necessary, but modern times desired without any 

1 Lit., " these kinds of ceremonies, too, were coupled and mixed," etc. 

2 On this Oehler remarks, that the books of Moses show that it was 
certainly used in the East in the most ancient times. But Arnobius has 
expressly restricted his statement to the use of incense " in these parts." 

3 Piumfar. 


27. Finally, that we may always abide by the rule and 
definition by which it has been shown and determined that 
whatever is done by man must have its causes, we will hold 
it fast here also, so as to demand of you what is the cause, 
what the reason, that incense is put on the altars before the 
very images of the deities, and that, from its being burned, 
they are supposed to become friendly and gentle. What do 
they acquire from this being done, or what reaches their 
minds, so that we should be right in judging that these 
things are well expended, and are not consumed uselessly 
and in vain? For as you should show why you give in- 
cense to the gods, so, too, it follows that you should manifest 
that the gods have some reason for not rejecting it with dis- 
dain, nay more, for desiring it so fondly. We honour the gods 
with this, some one will perhaps say. But we are not inquir- 
ing what your feeling is, but the gods' ; nor do we ask what is 
done by you, but how much they value what is done to pur- 
chase their favour. But yet, O piety, what or how great is 
this honour which is caused by the odour of a fire, and pro- 
duced from the gum of a tree ? For, lest you should happen 
not to know what this incense is. or what is its origin, it is 
a gum flowing from the bark of trees, [just] as from the 
almond-tree, the cherry-tree, solidifying as it exudes in drops. 
Does this, then, honour and magnify the celestial dignities ? 
or, if their displeasure has been at any time excited, is it 
melted away before the smoke of incense and lulled to 
sleep, their anger being moderated ? Why, then, do you not 
burn indiscriminately the juice of any tree whatever, without 
making any distinction ? For if the deities are honoured by 
this, and are not displeased that Panchcean gums are burned 
to them, what does it matter from what the smoke proceeds 
on your sacred altars, or from what kind of gum the clouds 
of fumigation arise ? 

28. Will any one say that incense is given to the celestials, 
for this reason, that it has a sweet smell, and imparts a plea- 
sant sensation to the nose, while the rest are disagreeable, 
and have been set aside because of their offensiveness ? Do 
the gods, then, have nostrils with which to breathe? do 


they inhale and respire currents of air so that the qualities 
of different smells can penetrate them? But if we allow 
that this is the case, we make them subject to the conditions 
of humanity, and shut them out from the limits of deity ; for 
whatever breathes and draws in draughts of air, to be sent 
back in the same way, must be mortal, because it is sustained 
by feeding on the atmosphere. But whatever is sustained by 
feeding on the atmosphere, if you take away the means by 
which communication is kept up, 1 its life must be crushed out, 
and its vital principle must be destroyed and lost. So then, if 
the gods also breathe and inhale odours enwrapt in the air 
that accompanies them, it is not untrue to say that they live 
upon what is received from others, 2 and that they might 
perish if their air-holes were blocked up. And whence, 
lastly, do you know whether, if they are charmed by the 
sweetness of smells, the same things are pleasant to them 
which [are pleasant] to you, and charm and affect your 
[different] natures with a similar feeling ? May it not be 
possible that the things which give pleasure to you, seem, on 
the contrary, harsh and disagreeable to them? For since 
the opinions of the gods are not the same, and their sub- 
stance not one, by what methods can it be brought about 
that that which is unlike in quality should have the same 
feeling and perception as to that which touches it? 3 Do we 
not every day see that, even among the creatures sprung 
from the earth, the same things are either bitter or sweet to 
different species, that to some things are fatal which are not 
pernicious to others, so that the same things which charm 
some with their delightful odours, give forth exhalations 
deadly to the bodies of others ? But the cause of this is not 
in the things which cannot be at one and the same time 
deadly and wholesome, sweet and bitter ; but just as each 
one has been formed to receive impressions from what is ex- 

1 Lit., "the returns by which the vital alternation is restored and 

2 So the MS., Hild., and Oehler, reading suffec-tionibus alienis, for 
which the rest read suffi " the fumigations of others." 

3 Lit., " feel and receive one contact." 


338 TEE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

ternal, 1 so he is affected : 2 his condition is not caused by the 
influences of the things, but springs from the nature of his 
own senses, and connection with the external. But all this 
is set far from the gods, and is separated from them by no 
small interval. For if it is true, as is believed by the wise, 
that they are incorporeal, and not supported by any excel- 
lence of [bodily] strength, an odour is of no effect upon them, 
nor can reeking fumes move them by their senses, not [even] 
if you were to set on fire a thousand pounds of the finest in- 
cense, and the whole sky were clouded with the darkness of 
the abundant vapours. For that which does not have [bodily] 
strength and corporeal substance, cannot be touched by cor- 
poreal substance ; but an odour is corporeal, as is shown by 
the nose when touched [by one] : therefore it cannot, accord- 
ing to reason, be felt by a deity, who has no body, and is 
without any feeling and thought. 3 

29. Wine is used along with incense ; and of this, in like 
manner, we ask an explanation why it is poured upon it 
when burning. For if a reason is not 4 shown for doing this, 
and its cause is not 6 set forth, this action of yours must not 
now be attributed to a ridiculous error, but, to speak more 
plainly, to madness, foolishness, blindness. For, as has been 
already said pretty frequently, everything which is done 
should have its cause manifest, and not involved in any 
dark obscurity. If, therefore, you have confidence in what 
is done, disclose, point out why that liquor is offered ; that is, 
[why] wine is poured on the altars. For do the bodies of 

1 Lit., "as each Las been made for the touching of a thing coming 
from "without." 

2 So Gelenius and later edd., reading afficitur for the unintelligible 
reading of MS. and Roman edd., efficit — "effects." 

3 So all edd., without remark, reading cog-it-atione, although "medi- 
tation " has nothing to do with the sense of smell, and has not been pre- 
viously mentioned. "We should probably read cog-n-atione — " relation," 
i.e. to such objects. 

4 So LB. and Oehler, reading nisi (ms. si), and other edd. inserting 
7ion, the negative being absolutely necessary to the sense, and supplied 
in the next clause. 

5 Lit., " nor will it have its cause." 


the deities feel parching thirst, and is it necessary that their 
dryness be tempered by some moisture ? Are they accus- 
tomed, as men are, to combine eating and drinking ? In like 
manner, also, after the solid 1 food of cakes and pottages, and 
victims slain [in honour of them], do they drench themselves, 
and make themselves merry with very frequent [cups of] wine, 
that their food may be more easily softened, and thoroughly 
digested ? Give, I beg, to the immortal gods to drink ; bring 
forth goblets, bowls, 2 ladles, and cups ; and as they stuff 
themselves with bulls, and luxurious feasts, and rich food, 
— lest some piece of flesh hastily 3 gulped down should stick 
in passing through the stomach, run up, hasten, give pure 
wine to Jupiter, the most excellent, the supreme, lest he be 
choked. He desires to break wind, and is unable ; and unless 
that hindrance passes away and is dissolved, there is very 
great danger that his breathing will be stopped and 4 inter- 
rupted, and heaven be left desolate without its rulers^ 

30. But, says [my opponent], you are insulting us without 
reason, for we do not pour forth wine to the gods of heaven 
for these reasons, as if we supposed that they either thirsted, 
or drank, or were made glad by tasting its sweetness. It is 
given to them to do them honour ; that their eminence may 
become more exalted, more illustrious, we pour libations on 
their altars, and with the [half] extinguished embers we raise 
sweet smells, 5 which show our reverence. And what greater 
insult can be inflicted upon the gods than if you believe that 
they become propitious on receiving wine, or, if you suppose 
that great honour is done to them, if you only throw and drop 
on the live coals a few drops of wine ? We are not speaking 
to men void of reason, or not possessed of common under- 

1 Although this is clearly the meaning, Stewechius explained solidos 
by referring to the ancient belief that such offerings should be wholly 
consumed, and no fragment left. 

2 Brias, drinking- cups, but of their peculiar shape or purpose we know 

3 Lit,, "badly." 4 Lit., "being strangled, may be." 
5 So LB., Orelli, and Oehler, reading with Salmasius m-u-scos (MS. 

-*-). Gelenius proposed cnissas, which would refer to the steam of the 

340 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

standing: in you, too, there is wisdom, there is perception, 
and in your hearts you know, by your own l judgment, that 
we are speaking truly. But what can we do with those 
who are utterly unwilling to consider things as they are, to 
converse themselves with themselves ? For you do what 
you see to be done, not that which you are assured should 
be done, inasmuch 2 as with you a custom without reason 
prevails, more than a perception of the nature of circum- 
stances based on a careful examination of the truth. For 
what has a god to do with wine ? or what or how great is 
the power in it, that, on its being poured out, his eminence 
becomes greater, and his dignity is supposed [to be] honoured? 
What, I say, has a god to do with wine, which is most closely 
connected with the pursuits of Venus, which weakens the 
strength of all virtues, [and] is hostile to the decency of 
modesty and chastity, — which has often excited [men's] minds, 
and urged them to madness and frenzy, and compelled the 
gods to destroy their own authority by raving [and] foul 
language ? Is not this, then, impious, and perfectly sacri- 
legious, to give that as an honour which, if you take too 
eagerly, you know not what you are doing, you are igno- 
rant of what you are saying, [and] at last are reviled, and 
become infamous as a drunkard, a luxurious and abandoned 
fellow ! 

31. It is worth while to brino; forward the words them- 
selves also, which, when wine is offered, it is customary to 
use and make supplication with : Let [the deity] be worshipped 
with this wine which we bring? The words ivhich ice bring, 
says Trebatius, are added for this purpose, and put forth for 
this reason, that all the wine whatever which has been laid 
up in closets and storerooms, from which was taken that 
which is poured out, may not begin to be sacred, and be reft 

1 Lit., " interior." 

2 So most edd., reading nimirum quia plus valet, for which the MS., fol- 
lowed by both Roman edd., Hild., and Oehler, read primum q. v., which 
Hild. would explain, "because it prevails above all [rather] than;" but 
this is at least very doubtful. 

8 Vino inferio. 


from the use of men. This word, then, being added, that 
alone will be sacred which is brought to [the place], and the 
rest will not be consecrated. 1 What kind of honour, then, is 
this, in which there is imposed on the deity a condition, 2 as it 
were, not to ask more than has been given ? or what is the 
greed of the god, who, if he were not verbally interdicted, 
would extend his desires too far, and rob his suppliant of his 
stores ? Let [the deity] be worshipped with this wine which 
tee bring : this is a wrong, not an honour. For what if the 
deity shall wish for more, and shall not be content with what 
is brought ! Must he not be said to be signally wronged who 
is compelled to receive honour conditionally? For if all 
wine in cellars whatever must become consecrated were a 
limitation not added, it is manifest both that the god is in- 
sulted to whom a limit is prescribed against his wishes, and 
that in sacrificing you yourselves violate the obligations of 
the sacred rites, who do not give as much wine as you see the 
god wishes to be given to himself. Let [the deity] be wor- 
shipped with this wine which we bring : what is this but 
saying, Be worshipped as much as I choose; receive as much 
dignity as 1 prescribe, as much honour as I decide and deter- 
mine by a strict engagement 3 that you should have ? O sub- 
limity of the gods, excelling in power, which thou shouldst 
venerate and worship with all ceremonial observances, but on 
which the worshipper imposes conditions, which he adores 
with stipulations and contracts, which, through fear of one 
word, is kept from excessive desire of wine ! 

32. But let there be, as you wish, honour in wine and in 
incense, let the anger and displeasure of the deities be ap- 
peased by the immolation and slaughter of victims : are the 
gods moved by garlands also, wreaths and flowers, by the 
jingling of brass also, and the shaking of cymbals, by timbrels 

1 Lit., "bound by religion." 

2 This is admirably illustrated in an inscription quoted by Heraldus : 
'* Jupiter most excellent, supreme, when this day I give and dedicate to 
thee this altar, I give and dedicate it with these conditions and limits 
which I say openly to-day." 

3 Circumscriptione verhorum. 

342 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

also, [and] also by symphonies t l What effect has the clatter- 
ing of castanets, that when the deities have heard them, they 
think that honour has been shown to them, and lay aside 
their fiery spirit of resentment in forgetf ulness ? Or, as little 
boys are frightened into giving over their silly wailings by 
hearing [the sound of] rattles, are the almighty deities also 
soothed in the same way by the whistling of pipes ? and do 
they become mild, [is] their indignation softened, at the 
musical sound of cymbals ? What is the meaning of those 
calls 2 which you sing in the morning, joining [your] voices 
to the [music of the] pipe? Do the gods of heaven fall 
asleep, so that they should return to their posts ? What [is 
the meaning of] those slumbers 2 to which you commend 
them with auspicious salutations that they may be in good 
health ? Are they awakened from sleep ; and that they may 
be able to be overcome by it, must soothing lullabies be 
heard ? The purification, says [my opponent], of the mother 
of the gods is to-day. 3 Do the gods, then, become dirty ; and 
to get rid of the filth, do those who wash [them] need water, 
and even some cinders to rub them with? 4 The feast of 
Jupiter is to-morrow. Jupiter, I suppose, dines, and must 
be satiated with great banquets, and long filled with eager 
cravings [for food] by fasting, and hungry after the usual ~ J 
interval. The vintage festival of ^Esculapius is being cele- 
brated. The gods, then, cultivate vineyards, and, having 
collected gatherers, press the wine for their own uses. 6 The 

1 Evidently musical instruments ; but while Isidore speaks of them as 
a kind of drum, other writers call them trumpets and pipes. 

2 At daybreak on opening, and at night on closing the temple, the 
priests of Isis sang hymns in praise of the goddess (cf. Jos. Scaliger, Cas- 
tigationes ad Cat., etc., p. 132) ; and to these Arnobius refers sarcastically, 
as though they had been calls to awake, and lullabies to sing her asleep. 

3 i.e. March 27th, marked Lavatio in a calendar prepared during the 
reign of Constantius. 

4 Lit., " and some rubbing of cinders added," aliqua frictione cineris; 
an emendation of Ursinus for the possibly correct MS. antiquaf. c. — " the 
ancient rubbing," i.e. that practised in early times. 

5 Lit., " anniversary." 

6 So the later cdd., adopting the emendation of ad suas usiones for the 
corrupt MS. ad (or ah) suasionibus. 


lectisternium of Ceres l will be on the next Ides, for the gods 
have couches ; and that they may be able to lie on softer 
cushions, the pillows are shaken up when they have been 
pressed down. 2 It is the birthday of Tellus ; 3 for the gods 
are born, and have festal days on which it has been settled 
that they began to breathe. 

33. But the games which you celebrate, called Floralia 
and Megalensia* and all the rest which you wish to be sacred, 
and to be considered religious duties, what reason have they, 
what cause, that it was necessary that they should be insti- 
tuted and founded and designated by the names 5 of deities? 
The gods are honoured by these, says [my opponent] ; and if 
they have any recollection of offences committed 6 by men, 
they lay it aside, get rid of it, and show themselves gracious 
to us again, their friendship being renewed. And what is the 
cause, again, that they are made quite calm and gentle, if 
absurd things are done, and idle fellows sport before the eyes 
of the multitude? Does Jupiter lay aside his resentment 
if the Amphitryon of Plautus is acted and declaimed? or if 
Europa, Leda, Ganymede, or Dana3 is represented by danc- 
ing, does he restrain his passionate impulses ? Is the Great 
Mother rendered more calm, more gentle, if she beholds the 
old story of Attis furbished up by the players ? Will Venus 
forget her displeasure if she sees mimics act the part of Adonis 
also in a ballet V Does the anger of Alcides die away if the 

1 i.e. feast at which the image of Ceres was placed on a couch, probably 
the Cerealia, celebrated in April. This passage flatly contradicts Prof. 
Ramsay's assertion (Ant. p. 345) that lectisternium is not applied to a 
banquet offered to a goddess ; while it corroborates his statement that 
such feasts were ordinary events, not extraordinary solemnities, as Mr. 
Yates says (Smith's Ant. s. v.). 

2 Lit,, "the impression of the cushions is lifted up and raised," i.e. 

3 Thus the 25th of January is marked as the birthday of the Graces, 
the 1st of February as that of Hercules, the 1st of March as that of 
Mars, in the calendar already mentioned. 

4 The former dedicated to Flora (cf. iii. 25), the latter to Cybele. 
6 Singular. 

6 So the margin of Ursinus, Elm., LB., Orelli, Hild., and Oehler: the 
SIS. reading not being known. 7 Lit., " in dancing motions." 

344 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vir. 

tragedy of' Sophocles named Tracldnice, or the Hercules of 
Euripides, is acted? or does Flora think 1 that honour is 
shown to her if at her games she sees that shameful actions 
are done, and the stews abandoned for the theatres ? Is not 
this, then, to lessen the dignity of the gods, to dedicate and 
consecrate to them the basest things which a rigidly virtuous 
mind will turn from with disgust, the performers of which 
your law has decided to be dishonoured and to be considered 
infamous ? The gods, forsooth, delight in mimics ; and that 
surpassing excellence which has not been comprehended by 
any human faculty, opens 2 its ears most willingly to hear 
these [plays], with most of which they know they are mixed 
up to be turned to derision ; they are delighted, as it is, with 
the shaved heads of the fools, by the sound of flaps, and by 
the [noise of] applause, by shameful actions and words, by 
huge red fascina. But further, if they see men weakening 
themselves to the effeminacy of women, some vociferating 
uselessly, others running about without cause, 3 others, while 
their friendship is unbroken, bruising and maiming each 
with the bloody cestus, these contending in [speaking with- 
out drawing] breath, 4 swelling out their cheeks with wind, and 
shouting out noisily empty vows, do they lift up their hands 
to heaven [in their admiration], start up moved by [such] 
wonders, burst into exclamations, again become gracious to 
men ? If these things cause the gods to forget their resent- 
ment, if they derive the highest pleasure from comedies, 
Atellane farces, [and] pantomimes, why do you delay, why 
do you hesitate, to say that the gods themselves also play, 
act lasciviously, dance, compose obscene songs, and undulate 
with trembling haunches? For what difference is there, 
or what does it matter, whether they do these things tliem- 

1 So Meursius, Orelli, and Oekler, reading existimat-ve, all the others 
retaining the MS. -ur " Is Flora thought to be treated," etc. 

2 Lit., "adapts." 

3 Here also there is doubt as to what the reading of the MS. is. The 
1st ed. reads sine culpa — "without blame," which is hardly in keeping 
with the context, emended causa, as above, by Gelenius. 

4 So Orelli explains certare hos spiritu as referring to a contest in 
which each strove to speak or sing with one breath longer than the rest. 


selves, or are pleased and delighted to see them done by 

34. Whence, therefore, have these vicious opinions flowed, 
or from what causes have they sprung? From this it is 
clear, in great measure, that men [are] unable to know what 
God is, what is His essence, nature, substance, quality; 
whether He has a form, or is limited by no bodily outline, 
does anything or not, is ever watchful, or is at times sunk in 
slumbers, runs, sits, walks, or is free from such motions and 
inactivity. Being, as I have said, unable to know all these 
things, or to discern them by any power of reason, they fell 
into these fanciful beliefs, so that they fashioned gods after 
themselves, and gave to these such a nature as they have 
themselves, in actions, circumstances, and desires. But if 
they were to perceive that they are worthless creatures, 1 and 
that there is no great difference between themselves and a 
little ant, they would cease, indeed, to think that they have 
anything in common with the gods of heaven, and would 
confine their unassuming insignificance 2 within its proper 
limits. But now, because they see that they themselves have 
faces, eyes, heads, cheeks, ears, noses, and all the other parts 
of [our] limbs and muscles, they think that the gods also 
have been formed in the same way, that the divine nature 
is embodied in a human frame; 3 and because they perceive 
that they themselves rejoice [and] are glad, and [again] are 
made sad by what is too disagreeable, they think that the 
deities also on joyous occasions are glad, and on less pleasant 
ones become dejected. [They see] that they are affected by 
the games, and think that the minds of the celestials are 
soothed by enjoying games ; and because they have pleasure 
in refreshing themselves with warm baths, they think that 
the cleanness produced by 4 bathing is pleasing to the gods 
above. We men gather our vintages, and they think and 
believe that the gods gather and bring in their grapes ; we 

1 Lit., " an animal of no value." 

2 Lit., "the modesty of their humility." 

3 Lit., " they contain their nature in a corporeal form." 

4 Lit., " of." 

346 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

have birthdays, and they affirm that the powers of heaven 
have birthdays. 1 But if they could ascribe to the gods ill- 
health, sickness, and bodily disease, they would not hesitate 
to say that they were splenetic, blear-eyed, and ruptured, 
because they are themselves both splenetic, and often blear- 
eyed, and weighed down by huge hernia. 

35. Come now : as the discussion has been prolonged and 
led to these points, let us, bringing forward what each has to 
say, 2 decide by a brief comparison whether your ideas of the 
gods above are the better, or our thoughts preferable, and 
much more honourable and just, and such as to give and 
assign its own dignity to the divine nature. And, first, you 
declare that the gods, whom you either think or believe to 
exist, of whom you have set up images and statues in all the 
temples, were born and produced from the germs of males 
and females, under the necessary condition of sexual embraces. 
But we, on the contrary, if they are indeed true gods, and have 
the authority, power, dignity of this name, consider that they 
must either be unbegotten (for it is pious to believe this), or, 
if they have a beginning in 3 birth, it belongs to the supreme 
God to know by what methods He made them, or how many 
ages there are since He granted to them to enter upon the 
eternal being of His own divine nature. You consider that 
the deities have sexes, and that some of them are male, 
others female ; we utterly deny that the powers of heaven 
have been distinguished by sexes, since this distinction has 
been given to the creatures of earth which the Author of the 
universe willed should embrace and generate, to provide, by 
their carnal desires, one generation of offspring after an- 

1 Cf. p. 343, n. 3. 

2 Lit., "by opposition of the parts of each." Considerable difficulty 
has been felt as to the abrupt way in which the book ends as it is 
arranged in the MS. Orelli has therefore adopted the suggestion of an 
anonymous critic, and transposed cc. 35, 36, 37 to the end. This does 
not, however, meet the difficulty ; for the same objection still holds good, 
that there is a want of connection and harmony in these concluding 
chapters, and that, even when thus arranged, they do not form a fitting 
conclusion to the whole work. 

8 Lit., "of." 


other. You think that the}' are like men, and have been 
fashioned with the countenances of mortals ; we think that 
the images of them are wide of the mark, 1 as form belongs 
to a mortal body ; and if they have any, we swear with the 
utmost earnestness and confidence that no man can compre- 
hend it. By you they are said to have each his trade, like 
artisans ; we laugh when we hear you say such things, as 
we hold and think that professions are not necessary to gods, 
and it is certain and evident that these have been provided to 
assist poverty. 

36. 2 You say that some of them [cause] dissensions, that 
there are others who inflict pestilences, others who [excite] 
love [and] madness, others, even, who preside over wars, and 
are delighted by the shedding of blood ; but we, indeed, on 
the contrary, judge that [these things] are remote 3 from the 
dispositions of the deities; or if there are any who inflict 
and bring these ills on miserable mortals, we maintain that 
they are far from the nature of the gods, and should not 
be spoken of under this name. You judge that the deities 
are angry and perturbed, and given over and subject to the 
other mental affections; we think that such emotions are alien 
from them, for [these] suit savage beings, and those who die 
as mortals. 4 You think that they rejoice, are made glad, 

1 Lit., " that effigies have been far removed from them." This may be 
understood, either as meaning that the gods had not visible form at all, 
or, as above, that their likenesses made by men showed no resemblance. 

2 50 in Orelli. 

3 It is important to notice the evidence in this one sentence of haste 
and want of revision. In the first line we find a genitive (discordiarum — 
"dissensions "), but not the noun on which it depends ; and in the apo- 
dosis a verb (disjunctas esse — " have been removed," i.e. " are remote ") 
has no subject, although its gender imperatively requires that has res, 
or some such words, be supplied. One omission might have been easily 
ascribed to a slip on the part of the copyist ; but two omissions such as 
these occurring so closely, must, it would seem, be assigned to the im- 
petuous disregard of minutix with which Arnobius blocked out a con- 
clusion which was never carefully revised. (Cf. Appendix, note 1, and 
p. 364, n. 3.) The importance of such indications is manifest in forming 
an opinion on the controversy as to this part of the work. 

4 Lit., "are of . . . those meeting the functions of mortality," ohe- 

348 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

and are reconciled to men, their offended feelings being 
soothed by the blood of beasts and the slaughter of victims : 
we hold that there is in the celestials no love of blood, and 
that they are not so stern as to lay aside their resentment 
only when glutted with the slaughter of animals. You think 
that, by wine and incense, honour is given to the gods, and 
their dignity increased ; w 7 e judge it marvellous and monstrous 
that any man thinks that the deity either becomes more 
venerable by reason of smoke, or thinks himself supplicated 
by men with sufficient awe and respect when they offer 1 a 
few drops of wine. You are persuaded that, by the crash 
of cymbals and the sound of pipes, by horse-races and the- 
atrical plays, the gods are both delighted and affected, and 
that their resentful feelings conceived before 2 are mollified 
by the satisfaction which these things give ; we hold it [to 
be] out of place, nay more, we judge it incredible, that those 
who have surpassed by a thousand degrees every kind of 
excellence in the height of their perfection, should be pleased 
and delighted with those things which a wise man laughs at, 
and which do not seem to have any charm except to little 
children, coarsely and vulgarly educated. 

37. Since these things are so, and since there is so great 
difference between 1 our opinions and yours, where are we, 
on the one hand, impious, or you pious, since the decision as 
to * piety and impiety must be founded on the opinions of 
the [two] parties? For he who makes himself an image 
which he may worship for a god, or slaughters an innocent 
beast, and burns it on consecrated altars, must not be held 
to be devoted to religion. 3 Opinion constitutes religion, and 
a right w T ay of thinking about the gods, so that you do not 
think that they desire anything contrary to what becomes 
their exalted position, [which is] manifest. 4 For since we 

unti-am, corrected by Gelenius (according to Orelli) for the MS. -lus, 
retained, though unintelligible, by Canterus, Oberth., and Hild. 
1 Lit, " of." 2 Lit., " some time." 

3 Lit., " divine things." 

4 So the MS., both Koman edd., Hild., and Oehler, reading prompts; 
corrected prassumptx — " taken for granted," in the rest. 


see all the things which are offered to them consumed here 
under our eyes, what else can be said to reach them from us 
than opinions worthy of the gods, and most appropriate to 
their name? These are the surest gifts, these true sacri- 
fices ; for gruel, incense, and flesh feed the devouring flames, 
and agree very well with the parentalia l of the dead. 

38. 2 If the immortal gods cannot be angry, says [my 
opponent], and their nature is not agitated or troubled by 
any passions, what do the histories, the annals mean, in 
which we find it written 3 that the gods, moved by some 
annoyances, occasioned pestilences, sterility, 4 failure of crops, 
and other dangers, to states and nations ; and that they 
again, being appeased and satisfied by means of 5 sacrifices, 
laid aside their burning anger, and changed the state of the 
atmosphere and times into a happier one? What [is the 
meaning of] the earth's roarings, the earthquakes, which we 
have been told occurred because the games had been cele- 
brated carelessly, and their nature and circumstances [had] 
not been attended to, and yet, on their being celebrated 
afresh, and repeated with assiduous care, the terrors of the 
gods were stilled, and [they] were recalled to care and friend- 
ship for men ? How often, after that — in obedience to the 
commands of the seers and the responses of the diviners — 
sacrifice has been offered, and certain gods have been sum- 
moned from nations dwelling beyond the sea, and shrines 
erected to them, and certain images and statues set on loftier 
pillars, have fears of impending dangers been diverted, and 
the most troublesome enemies beaten, and the republic ex- 
tended both by repeated joyous victories, and by gaining 
possession of several provinces ! Now, certainly this would 
not happen if the gods despised sacrifices, games, and other 
acts of worship, and did not consider themselves honoured 
by expiatory offerings. If, then, all the rage and indignation 
of the deities are cooled when these things are offered, and 

1 i.e. offerings to parents, as the name implies, and other relatives who 
were dead. 

2 35 in Orelli. 3 Lit., " in the writings of which we read." 
4 PI. 5 Lit,, " by satisfaction of." 



[if] those things become favourable which seemed fraught 
with terrors, it is clear that all these things are not done 
without the gods wishing them, and that it is vain, and shows 
utter ignorance, to blame us for giving them. 

39. 1 We have come, then, in speaking, to the very point 
of the case, to that on which the question hinges, to the real 
and most intimate [part of the] discussion, which it is fitting 
that, laying aside superstitious dread, and putting away par- 
tiality, we should examine whether these are gods whom you 
assert to be furious when offended, and to be rendered mild 
by sacrifices ; or whether they are something far different, 
and should be separated from the notion of this name and 
power. For we do not deny that all these things are to be 
found in the writings of the annalists which have been 
brought forward by you in opposition ; for we ourselves also, 
according to the measure and capacity of our abilities, have 
read, and know, that it has been recorded that once at the 
ludi circenses, celebrated in honour of Jupiter the supreme, 
a master dragged across the middle of the arena, and after- 
wards, according to custom, punished with the cross, a very 
worthless slave [whom he had] beaten with rods. Then, 
when the games were ended, and the races not long finished, 
a pestilence began to distress the state ; and when each day 
brought fresh ill worse than what was before, 2 and the people 
were perishing in crowds, in a dream Jupiter said to a certain 
rustic, obscure from the lowliness of his lot, that he should 
go 3 to the consuls, point out that the dancer 4 had displeased 
him, that it might be better for the state if the respect due 
to the games were paid to them, and they were again cele- 
brated afresh with assiduous care. And when he had utterly 
neglected to do this, either because he supposed it was an 
empty dream, and would find no credence with those to whom 
he should tell it, or because, remembering his natural insig- 
nificance, he avoided and dreaded approaching those who 

1 36 in Orelli. 2 Lit., "added evil heavier than evil." 

3 So later edd., reading vaderet from the margin of Ursinus, while 
the first three retain the MS. reading suaderet — " persuade." 

4 i.e. the slave writhing under the scourge. 


were so powerful, 1 Jupiter was rendered hostile to the lin- 
gerer, and imposed as punishment [on him] the death of his 
sons. Afterwards, when he 2 threatened the man himself 
with death unless he went to announce his disapproval of the 
dancer, — overcome by fear of dying, since he was already him- 
self also burning with the fever of the plague, having been 
infected, he was carried to the senate-house, as his neighbours 
wished, and, when his vision had been declared, the con- 
tagious fever passed away. The repetition of the games being 
then decreed, great care was, on the one hand, given to the 
shows, and its former good health was restored to the people. 
40. 3 But neither shall we deny that we know this as well, 
that once on a time, when the state and republic were in 
difficulties, caused either by 4 a terrible plague continually 
infecting the people and carrying them off, or by enemies 
powerful, and at that time almost threatening to rob it of 
its liberty 5 because of their success in battle, — by order 
and advice of the seers, certain gods 6 were summoned from 
among nations dwelling beyond the sea, and honoured 
with magnificent temples ; and that the violence of the 
plague abated, and very frequent triumphs were gained, the 
power of the enemy being broken, and the territory of the 
empire was increased, and provinces without number fell 
under your sway. But neither does this escape our know- 
ledge, that we have seen it asserted that, when the Capitol 
was struck by a thunderbolt, and many other things in it, 
the image of Jupiter also, which stood on a lofty pillar, was 
hurled from its place. Thereafter a response was given by 
the soothsayers, that cruel and very sad mischances were por- 
tended from fire and slaughter, from the destruction of the 
laws, and the overthrow of justice, especially, however, from 
enemies themselves belonging to the nation, and from an im- 
pious band of conspirators ; but that these things could not be 
averted, nay, that the accursed designs could not be revealed, 

1 Lit., " of so great power." 2 i.e. Jupiter. s 37 in Orelli. 

4 Lit., " which either a . . . made," etc. 

5 Lit., " very near to danger of carrying off liberty." 

6 Cf . ii. 73. 

352 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

unless Jupiter were again set up firmly on a higher pillar, 
turned towards the east, and facing the rays of the [rising] 
sun. Their words were trustworthy, for, when the pillar was 
raised, and the statue turned towards the sun, the secrets 
were revealed, and the offences made known were punished. 
41. 1 All these things which have been mentioned, have 
indeed a miraculous appearance (rather, they are believed 
to haye it), if they come to men's ears just as they have 
been brought forward ; and we do not deny that there is in 
them something which, being placed in the fore front, as the 
saying is, may stun the ears, and deceive by its resemblance 
to truth. But if you will look closely at what was done, 
the personages and their pleasures, 2 you will find that there 
is nothing worthy of the gods, and (as has already been said 
often) [nothing worthy] to be referred to the splendour and 
majesty of this race. For, first, who is there who will believe 
that he was a god who was pleased with horses running to 
no purpose, 3 and considered it most delightful that he should 
be summoned 4 by such sports ? Rather, who is there who 
will agree that that was Jupiter (whom you call the supreme 
god, and the creator of all things which are) who set out 
from heaven to behold geldings vieing [with each other] in 
speed, and running 5 the seven rounds of the course; and 
that, although he had himself determined that they should 
not be equally nimble, he nevertheless rejoiced to see them 
pass each other, and be passed, some in their haste falling 
forward upon their heads, [and] overturned upon their backs 
along with their chariots, others dragged along and lamed, 
their le£s bein£ broken; and that he considered as the highest 
pleasures fooleries mixed with trifles and cruelties, which any 

1 38 in Orelli. 

2 So the MS., LB., Hild., and Oehler, reading volu-p-tates, i.e. the 

games and feasts spoken of previously ; the other edd. read -n 

" wishes." 

3 Oehler explains frustra by otiose — " who was leisurely delighted ; " 
but there is no reason why it should not have its usual meaning, as above. 

4 i.e. from heaven. Instead of e-vocari, however, Heraldus has pro- 
posed a " be diverted." 

5 Lit, "unfolding." 


man, [even though] fond of pleasure, and not trained to 
strive after seriousness and dignity, would consider childish, 
and spurn as ridiculous ? Who is there, I say, who will be- 
lieve (to repeat this word assiduously) that he was divine 
who, being irritated because [a slave] was led across the 
circus, about to suffer and be punished as he deserved, was 
inflamed with anger, and prepared himself to take vengeance 1 
For if the slave was guilty, and deserved to be punished with 
that chastisement, why should Jupiter have been moved with 
any indignation when nothing was being done unjustly, nay, 
when a guilty fellow was being punished, as was right ! But 
if he was free from guilt, and not worthy of punishment at 
all, [Jupiter] himself was the cause of the dancer's vitiating 
the games, 1 for when he might have helped him, he did him 
no service — nay, sought both to allow what he disapproved, 
and to exact from others the penalty for what he had per- 
mitted. And why, then, did he complain and declare that 
he was wronged in the case of that dancer because he was 
led through the midst of the circus to suffer the cross, with 
his back torn by rods and scourges ? 

42. 2 And what pollution or abomination could have flowed 
from this, either to make the circus less pure, or to defile 
Jupiter, seeing that in a few moments, in [a few] seconds, 
he beheld so many thousands throughout the world perish 
by different kinds of death, and with various forms of tor- 
ture? He was led across, says [my opponent], before the 
games began to be celebrated. If from a sacrilegious spirit 
and contempt 3 for religion, we have reason to excuse Jupiter 
for being indignant that he was contemned, and that more 
anxious care was not given to his games. But if from 
mistake or accident that secret fault was not observed and 
known, would it not have been right and befitting Jupiter to 
pardon human failings, and grant forgiveness to the blind- 
ness of ignorance ? But it was necessary that it should be 
punished. And after this, will any one believe that he was 
a god who avenged and punished neglect of a childish show 

1 Lit., " was in the cause of the vicious dancer." 

2 39 in Orelli. 3 So all edd., rejecting 5 from MS. contemptu-s. 

354 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

by the destruction of a state? that he had any seriousness 
and dignity, or any steady constancy, who, that he might 
speedily enjoy pleasure afresh, turned the air men breathed 1 
into a baneful poison, and ordered the destruction of mortals 
by plague and pestilence ? If the magistrate who presided 
over the games was too careless in learning who on that day 
had been led across the circus, and blame was therefore con- 
tracted, what had the unhappy people done that they should 
in their own persons suffer the penalty of another's offences, 
and should be forced to hurry out of life by contagious pesti- 
lences? Nay, what had the women, whose weakness did 
not allow them to take part in public business, the grown- 
up 2 maidens, the little -boys, finally the young children, 
yet dependent for food on their nurses, — what had these 
done that they should be assailed with equal, with the same 
severity, and that before [they tasted] the joy of life 3 they 
should feel the bitterness of death ? 

43. 4 If Jupiter sought to have his games celebrated, and 
that afresh, 5 with greater care ; if he honestly [sought] to 
restore 6 the people to health, and that the evil which he had 
caused should go no further and not be increased, would it 
not have been better that he should come to the consul him- 
self, to some one of the public priests, the pontifex maximus, 
or to his own flamen Dialis, and in a vision reveal to him 
the defect [in the games] occasioned by the dancer, and the 
cause of the sadness of the times ? What reason had there 
been that he should choose, to announce his wishes and pro- 
cure the satisfaction desired, a man accustomed to [live in] 
the country, unknown from the obscurity of his name, not 
acquainted with city matters, [and] perhaps not knowing 
what a dancer is? And if he indeed knew, [as he must 

1 Lit., " draughts of air." 

2 So, by omitting two letters, all edd. except 1st and Ursinus, which 
retain MS. adult-er-x — " adulterous." 

s Lit., "light." 

4 40 in Orelli. The MS., 1st edd., and Ursinus want si. 

5 Lit., "and restored." 

6 The MS. and Ursinus read rcddere-t~" if he was to restore ; " cor- 
rected, as above, by omission of t. 


have known] if he was a diviner, 1 that this fellow would 
refuse to obey, would it not have been more natural and 
befitting a god, to change the man's mind, and constrain him 
to be willing to obey, than to try more cruel methods, and 
vent his rage indiscriminately, without any reason, as robbers 
do 1 For if the old rustic, not being quick in entering upon 
anything, delayed in [doing] what was commanded, being 
kept back by stronger motives, of what had his unhappy 
children been guilty, that [Jupiter's] anger and indignation 
should be turned upon them, and that they should pay for 
another's offences by being robbed of their lives f And can 
any man believe that he [is] a god [who is] so unjust, so 
impious, and who does not observe even the laws of men, 
among whom it would be held a great crime to punish one 
for another, and to avenge one man's offences upon others? 2 
But, [I am told], he caused the man himself to be seized by 
the cruel pestilence. Would it not then have been better, 
nay rather, juster, if it seemed that this should be done, 
that dread of punishment should be first excited by the father, 
who 3 had been the cause of such passion by 4 his disobedient 
delay, than to do violence to the children, and to consume 
and destroy innocent persons to make him sorrowful ? 5 
What, pray, w T as [the meaning of] this fierceness, this cruelty, 
which [was] so great that, his offspring being dead, it after- 
wards terrified the father by his own danger ! But if he 
had chosen to do this long before, that is, in the first place, 
not only would not the innocent brothers have been cut off, 
but the indignant purpose of the deity also would have been 
known. But certainly, [it will be said], when he had done 
his duty by announcing the vision, the disease immediately 
left him, and the man was forthwith restored to health. 
And what is there to admire in this if he removed 6 the 
evil which he had himself breathed [into the man], and 

1 i.e. if he is a god. Cf. iii. 20. 2 Lit., " the necks of." 

3 Lit., "the terror of coercion should begin from the father with whom." 

4 Lit, " even," et. 5 Lit., " to his grief." 

6 The MS. reads rett-ulit, emended ret " gave back," i.e. got rid of, 

by 1st ed. and Ursinius ; and rep-, as above, by Gelenius and others. 

356 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

vaunted himself with false pretence? But if you weigh the 
circumstances thoroughly, there was greater cruelty than 
kindness in his deliverance, for [Jupiter] did not preserve 
him to the joys of life [who was] miserable and wishing to 
perish after his children, but to learn his solitariness and the 
agonies of bereavement. 

44. 1 In like manner we mi<*ht o;o through the other narra- 
tives, and show that in these also, and in expositions of these, 
[something] far different from what the gods should be is 
said and declared about them, as in this very [story] which 
I shall next relate, one or two [only] being added to it, that 
disgust may not be produced by excess. 2 After certain gods 
were brought from among nations dwelling beyond the sea, 
you say, and after temples were built to them, after their 
altars were heaped with sacrifices, the plague-stricken people 
grew strong [and] recovered, and the pestilence fled before 
the soundness of health which arose. What gods, say, I 
beseech? jEsculapius, you say, the god of health, from 
Epidaurus, and [now] settled in the island in the middle of 
the Tiber. If w r e were disposed to be very scrupulous in 
dealing with your assertions, we might prove by your own 
authority that he was by no means divine who had been 
conceived and born from a woman's womb, who had by 
yearly stages reached that term of life at which, as is related 
in your books, a thunderbolt drove him at once from life and 
light. But we leave this question : let the son of Coronis be, 
as you wish, one of the immortals, and possessed of the ever- 
lasting blessedness 3 of heaven. From Epidaurus, however, 
what was brought except an enormous serpent? If we 
trust the annals, and ascribe to them well-ascertained truth, 
nothing else, as it has been recorded. What shall we say 
then? That JEsculapius, whom you extol, an excellent, a 

1 41 in Orelli. 

2 In the MS. and both Roman edcl. the section translated on p. 365 is 
inserted here. Ursinus, however (pp. 210-11), followed by Heraldus 
(312-13), enclosed it in brackets, and marked it with asterisks. In all 
other edd. it is either given as an appendix, or wholly rejected. 

3 Lit., " sublimity." 


venerable god, the giver of health, the averter, preventer, 
destroyer of sickness, is contained within the form and out- 
line of a serpent, crawling along the earth as worms are 
wont to do, which spring from mud ; he rubs the ground, 
with his chin and breast, dragging himself in sinuous coils ; 
and that he may be able to go forward, he draws on the last 
part of his body by the efforts of the first. 

45. 1 And as we read that he used food also, by which 
bodily existence is kept up, he has a large gullet, that he 
may gulp down the food sought for with gaping mouth ; he 
has a belly to receive it, and 2 a place where he may digest 
the flesh which he has eaten and devoured, that blood may 
be given to his body, and his strength recruited; 3 he has 
also a draught, by which the filth is got rid of, freeing his 
body from a disagreeable burden. Whenever he changes 
his place, and prepares to pass from one region to another, 
he does not as a god fly secretly through the stars of heaven, 
and stand in a moment where something requires his pre- 
sence, but, just as a dull animal [of earth], he seeks a convey- 
ance on which he may be borne ; he avoids the waves of the 
sea ; and that he may be safe and sound, he goes on board 
ship along with men ; and that god of the common safety 
trusts himself to weak planks and to sheets of wood joined 
together. We do not think that you can prove and show 
that that serpent was .ZEsculapius, unless you choose to bring 
forward this pretext, that you should say that the god changed 
himself into a snake, in order that he might be able 4 to deceive 
[men as to] himself, who he was, or to see what men were. 
But if you say this, the inconsistency of your own statements 
will show how weak and feeble such a defence is. 5 For if the 
god shunned being seen by men, he should not have chosen to 
be seen in the form of a serpent, since in any form whatever 

1 42 in Orelli. 

2 So the edd., reading et for MS. nt (according to Crusius). 

3 Lit., " restoration be supplied to his strength." 

4 So Gelenius, merely adding t to the ms. posse. The passage is, how- 
ever, very doubtful. 

5 Lit., " how weakly and feebly it is said." 

358 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

he was not to be other than himself, but [always] himself. 
But if, on the other hand, he had been intent on allowing 
himself to be seen — he should not have refused to allow men's 
eyes to look on him 1 — why did he not show himself such as he 
knew that he was in his own divine power? 2 For this was pre- 
ferable, and much better, and more befittinghis august majesty, 
than to become a beast, and be changed into the likeness of a 
terrible animal, and afford room for objections, which cannot 
be decided, 3 as to whether he was a true god, or something 
different and far removed from the exalted nature of deity. 

46. 4 But, says [my opponent], if he was not a god, why, 
after he left the ship, [and] crawled to the island in the 
Tiber, did he immediately become invisible, and cease to be 
seen as before? Can we indeed know whether there was 
anything in the way under cover of which he hid himself, 
or any opening [in the earth] ? Do you declare, say your- 
selves, what that was, or to what race of beings it should be 
referred, if your service of certain personages is [in itself] 
certain. 5 Since the case is thus, and the discussion deals 
with your deity, and your religion also, it is your part to 
teach, and yours to show what that was, rather than to wish 
to hear our opinions and to await our decisions. For we, 
indeed, what else can we say than that which took place and 
was seen, which has been handed down in all the narratives, 
and has been observed by means of the eyes ? This, how- 
ever, undoubtedly we say [was] a colubra 6 of very power- 
ful frame and immense length, or, if the name is despicable, 
[we say it was] a snake, 7 we call it a serpent, 8 or any other 

1 These words, non debuit oculorum negare conspectni, should, Orelli 
thinks, be omitted ; and certainly their connection with the rest of the 
sentence is not very apparent. 

2 Lit., "he was, and such as he had learned that he was, contained 
in the power of his divinity." 

3 Lit., "to ambiguous contradictions." 4 43 in Orelli. 

5 Lit., " if your services of certain persons are certain," i.e. if these 
facts on which your worship is built are well ascertained. 

6 What species of snake this was, is not known ; the Latin is therefore 
retained, as the sentence insists on the distinction. 

7 Anguem. 8 Serpentem. 


name which usage has afforded to us, or the development of 
language devised. For if it crawled as a serpent, not sup- 
porting itself and walking on feet, 1 but resting upon its belly 
and breast; if, being made of fleshly substance, it [lay] 
stretched out in 2 slippery length ; if it had a head and tail, 
a back covered with scales, diversified by spots of various 
colours ; if it had a mouth bristling with fangs, and ready to 
bite, what else can we say than that it was of earthly origin, 
although of immense and excessive size, although it exceeded 
in length of body and [greatness] of might that which was 
slain by Regulus by the assault of his army ? But [if] we 
think otherwise, we subvert 3 and overthrow the truth. It 
is yours, then, to explain what that was, or what was its 
origin, its name, and nature. For how could it have been a 
god, seeing that it had those things which we have mentioned, 
which gods should not have if they intend to be gods, and 
to possess this exalted title ? After it. crawled to the island 
in the Tiber, forthwith it was nowhere to be seen, by which 
it is shown that it was a deity. Can we, then, know whether 
there was there anything in the way under cover of which it 
hid itself, 4 or some opening [in the earth], or some caverns and 
vaults, caused by huge masses being heaped up irregularly, 
into which it hurried, evading the gaze of the beholders? 
For what if it leaped across the river? what if it swam 
across it ? what if it hid itself in the dense forests ? It 
is weak reasoning from this, 5 to suppose that that serpent 
was a god because with all speed it withdrew itself from the 
eyes [of the beholders], since, by the same reasoning, it can 
be proved, on the other hand, that it was not a god. 

47. G But if that snake was not a present deity, [says my 

1 Lit., " bearing himself on feet, nor unfolding below his own goings." 

2 Lit., " to a." 

8 So Hild. and Oehler, reading labefac-t-amus for the MS. -i-. 

4 This sentence alone is sufficient to prove that these chapters were 
never carefully revised by their author, as otherwise so glaring repeti- 
tions would certainly have been avoided. 

5 Here the MS. and both Roman edd. insert the last clause, " what 
. . . forests." 

6 44 in Orelli. 

360 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vir. 

opponent], why, after its arrival, was the violence of the 
plague overcome, and health restored to the Roman people ? 
We, too, on the other hand, bring forward [the question], 
If, according to the books of the fates and the responses of 
the seers, the god -ZEsculapius was ordered to be invited to 
the city, that he might cause it to be safe and sound from 
the contagion of the plague and of pestilential diseases, and 
came without spurning [the proposal] contemptuously, as 
you say, changed into the form of serpents, — why has the 
Roman state been so often afflicted with such disasters, so 
often at one time and another torn, harassed, and diminished 
by thousands, through the destruction of its citizens times 
without number? For since the god is said to have been 
summoned for this purpose, that he might drive away utterly 
all the causes by which pestilence was excited, it followed that 
the state should be safe, and should be always maintained 
free from pestilential blasts, and unharmed. But yet we see, 
as was said before, that it has over and over again had seasons 
made mournful by these diseases, and that the manly vigour 
of its people has been shattered and weakened by no slight 
losses. Where, then, was .zEsculapius ? where that [deliverer] 
promised by venerable oracles? Why, after temples were 
built, and shrines reared to him, did he allow a state deserv- 
ing his favour to be any longer plague-stricken, when he had 
been summoned for this purpose, that he should cure the 
diseases which were raging, and not allow anything of the 
sort which might be dreaded to steal on [them afterwards] ? 
48. 1 But some one will perhaps say that the care of such 
a god has been denied 2 to later and following ages, because 
the ways in which men now live are impious and objec- 
tionable ; that it brought help to our ancestors, on the con- 
trary, because they were blameless and guiltless. Now this 
might perhaps have been listened to, and said with some 
reasonableness, either if in ancient times all were good with- 
out exception, or if later times produced 3 only wicked people, 

1 45 in Orelli. 2 Lit., " wanting." 

3 The sis., 1st ed., Hilcl., and Oehler read gener-cnt, corrected in the 
rest, as above, -arent. 


and no others. 1 But since this is the case that in great peoples, 
in nations, nay, in all cities even, men have been of mixed 2 
natures, wishes, manners, and the good and bad have been 
able to exist at the same time in former ages, as well as in 
modern times, it is rather stupid to say that mortals of a 
later day have not obtained the aid of the deities on account 
of their wickedness. For if on account of the w T icked of 
later generations the good men of modern times have not 
been protected, on account of the ancient evil-doers also the 
good of former times should in like manner not have gained 
the favour of the deities. But if on account of the good of 
ancient times the wicked of ancient times were preserved 
also, the following age, too, should have been protected, 
although it was faulty on account of the good of later times. 
So, then, either that snake gained the reputation of [being] 
a saviour while he had been of no service at all, through his 
being brought [to the city] when the violence of the disease 3 
was already weakened and impaired, or the hymns of the 
fates must be said to have been far from giving 4 true indi- 
cations, since the remedy given by them is found to have 
been useful, not to all in succession, but to one age only. 

49. 5 But the Great Mother, also, says [my opponent], 
being summoned from Phrygian Pessinus in precisely the 
same way by command of the seers, was a cause of safety 
and great joy to the people. For, on the one hand, a long- 
powerful enemy was thrust out from the position he had 
gained in 6 Italy ; and, on the other, its ancient glory was 
restored to the city by glorious and illustrious victories, and 
the boundaries of the empire were extended far and wide, 
and their rights as freemen were torn from races, states, 
peoples without number, and the yoke of slavery imposed on 

1 Lit., "all wicked and distinguished by no diversity." 

2 Lit, "the human race has been mixed in," etc. 

3 So all edd., reading vi morbi, except Hild., who retains the MS. vi 
urbi, in which case the brackets should enclose " of the disease," instead 
of " to the city." The construction, however, seems to make it impos- 
sible to adhere to the MS. 

4 Lit., "to have erred much from." 

5 46 in Orelli. c Lit., " from the possession of Italy." 

362 THE SEVEN BOOKS OF [Book vii. 

them, and many other things accomplished at home and 
abroad established the renown and dignity of the race with 
irresistible power. If the histories tell the truth, and do not 
insert what is false in their accounts of events, nothing else 
truly J is said to have been brought from Phrygia, sent by 
King Attalus, than a stone, not large, which could be carried 
in a man's hand without any pressure — of a dusky and black 
colour — not smooth, but having little corners standing out, 
and which to-day we all see put in that image instead of a 
face, rough and unhewn, giving to the figure a countenance 
by no means lifelike. 2 

50. 3 What shall we say then? Was Hannibal, that 
famous Carthaginian, an enemy strong and powerful, be- 
fore whom the fortunes of Rome trembled in doubt and 
uncertainty, and its greatness shook — was he driven from 
Italy by a stone ? 4 was he subdued by a stone ? was he made 
fearful, and timid, and unlike himself by a stone? And 
with regard to Rome's again springing to the height of 
power and royal supremacy, was nothing done by wisdom, 
nothing by the strength of men ; and, in returning to its 
former eminence, was no assistance given by so many and 
so great leaders by their military skill, or by their acquaint- 
ance with affairs? Did the stone give strength to some, 
feebleness to others ? Did it hurl these down from success, 
raise the fortunes of others [which seemed] hopelessly over- 
thrown ? And what man will believe that a stone taken 
from the earth, having 5 no feeling, of sooty colour and 
dark 6 body, was the mother of the gods? or who, again, 
would listen to this (for this is the only alternative), that 
the power 7 of any deity dwelt in pieces of flint, within s its 

1 So all edd. to Orelli, adding -em to the ms. quid. 

2 Lit., " a face too little expressed with imitation." 

3 47 in Orelli. 4 Lit., " did a stone drive," etc. 
5 Lit., " moved by." 

G So the ms. and edd.; but, on account of the unnecessary repetition, 
Ursinus proposed to delete atri. linger (Anal. Propert. p. 87) has sug- 
gested very happily arti — " of confined, i.e. small body." 

7 Vim, suggested by Orelli, and adopted by Hild. and Oehler. 

8 Lit., "subjected to." 


mass, 1 and hidden in its veins ? And how was the victory 
procured if there was no deity in the Pessinuntine stone? 
We may say, by the zeal and valour of the soldiers, by prac- 
tice, time, wisdom, reason ; we may [say], by fate also, and 
the alternating fickleness of fortune. But if the state of 
affairs was improved, and success and victory were regained, 
by the stone's assistance, where was the Phrygian mother at 
the time when the commonwealth was bowed down by the 
slaughter of so many and so great armies, and was in danger 
of utter ruin I Why did she not thrust herself before the 
threatening, the strong [enemy] ? Why did she not crush 
and repel assaults 2 so terrible before these awful blows fell, 
by which all the blood was shed, and the life even failed, 
the vitals being almost exhausted? She had not been 
brought yet, [says my opponent], nor asked to show favour. 
Be it so ; 3 but a kind helper never requires to be asked, 
always offering assistance of his own accord. She was 
not able, [you say], to expel the enemy and put him to 
flight, while still separated from Italy 4 by much sea and 
land. But to a deity, if really one, 5 nothing whatever is 
remote, to whom the earth is a point, and by whose nod all 
things have been established. 

51. 6 But suppose that the deity was present in that very 
stone, as you demand should be believed : and what mortal 
is there, although he may be credulous and very ready to 
listen to any fictions you please, who would consider that 
she either was a goddess at that time, or should be now so 
spoken of and named, who at one time desires these things, 
at another requires those, abandons and despises her worship- 
pers, leaves the humbler provinces, and allies herself with more 

1 So Hild. and Oehler, reading moli for the unintelligible Ms. more. 

2 Lit., " so great assaults of war." 

G So Oehler, adding -o to the MS. est. The word immediately preced- 
ing is in the MS. -pavorem — "panic," which is of course utterly out of 
place, and is therefore corrected, as above, /- in all edd., except 1st, 
Ursinus, and Hild. 

4 So — ab Italia — Oehler has admirably emended the MS. habitaoilia. 

5 Lit., " if he is." e 48 in Qrelli. 


powerful and richer peoples, truly * loves warfare, and wishes 
to be in the midst of battles, slaughter, death, and blood? 
If it is characteristic of the gods (if only they are true gods, 
and those who it is fitting should be named according to 
the meaning of this word and the power of divinity) to do 2 
nothing wickedly, nothing unjustly, to show 2 themselves 
equally gracious to all men without any partiality, [would] 
any man [believe] that she was of divine origin, or showed a 
kindness worthy of the gods, who, mixing herself up with 
the dissensions of men, destroyed the power of some, gave 
and showed favour to others, bereft some of their liberty, 
raised others to the height of power, — who, that one state 
might be pre-eminent, having been born to be the bane of 
the human race, subjugated the guiltless world? 

1 All edd., except Hild. and Oehler, begin a new sentence here, 
and change the construction, seemingly following the mistake of the 
1st ed. 

2 " To do ... to show;" so the edd., dropping -nt from the MS. 
facere-nt . . . prsebere-nt. 

3 Lit., u showed." Ursinus and Heraldus supposed that some para- 
graphs are now wanting which were originally found here. It should 
be noticed that in the MS. the usual subscription is found denoting 
the end of a book. " The seventh book of Arnovius (sic) ends, the 
eighth (i.e Octavius of Minucius Felix) begins," so that the present 
arrangement is not due to the binder, nor clearly to the copyist who 
wrote these words. Nothing can be more certain than that we do 
not have these chapters as Arnobius intended to leave them; but 
there is not the slightest reason to suppose that he actually left 
them otherwise than they have come down to us. Remembering this, 
we may well suppose that we have only the first draught of them. 
If so, the difficulties vanish, for nothing would be more natural than 
that, when Arnobius was drawing near the close of his work, the 
ideas of the conclusion in which the discussion was to be fairly summed 
up should force themselves upon his attention, and that he should 
therefore turn aside at once to give them expression roughly, without 
seeking completeness and elaboration, and should then hastily resume 
his argument, of course with the intention of afterwards revising and 
rearranging the whole. We may infer that the rearrangement was 
never effected, as there are sufficient proofs that the revision was never 
accomplished, whatever may have been the reason. 


[This section, which is found in the MS. after the first sentence of ch. 
44, was retained in the text of both Roman editions, marked oif, 
however, by asterisks in that of Ursinus, but was rejected by 
Gelenius and later editors as the useless addition of some copyist. 
Oehler alone has seen that it is not "a collection of words gathered 
carelessly and thoughtlessly " (Hildebrand), and maintained that 
we have in it the corrections of Arnobius himself. If the three 
paragraphs are read carefully, it will be observed that the first is a 
transposition and reconstruction of the first two sentences of ch. 
39 ; the second a revision of the interrogations in ch. 41, but with 
the sentence which there precedes placed after them here, whilst the 
third is made up of the same sentences in a revised and enlarged 
form. Now this must be regarded as conclusive evidence against 
the hypothesis that these sentences were originally scribbled care- 
lessly on the margin, and afterwards accidentally incorporated in 
the text. Cf. p. 347, n. 3.] 

|E do not deny that all these things which have been 
brought forward by you in opposition are con- 
tained in the writings of the annalists. For we 
have ourselves also, according to the measure 
and capacity of our powers, read these same things, and 
know that they have been alleged ; but the whole discussion 
hinges upon this : whether these are gods who you assert 
are furious when displeased, and are soothed by games and 
sacrifices, or are something far different, and should be 
separated from the notion even of this, and from its power. 

For who, in the first place, thinks or believes that those 
are gods who are lost in joyful pleasure at theatrical shows x 
and ballets, at horses running to no purpose; who set out 
from heaven to behold silly and insipid acting, and grieve 
that they are injured, and that the honours due to them are 
1 Lit., " motions." 


withheld if the pantomimist halts for a little, or the player, 
being wearied, rests a little; who declare that the dancer 
has displeased them if some guilty [fellow] passes through 
the middle of the circus to suffer the penalty and punish- 
ment of his deeds? All which things, if they be sifted 
thoroughly and without any partiality, will be found to be 
alien not only to the gods, but to any man of refinement, 
even if he has not been trained to the utmost gravity and 
self-control. 1 

For, in the first place, who is there who would suppose 
that those had been, or believe that they are, gods, who have 
a nature which tends to 2 mischief and fury, and lay these 3 
aside again, being moved by a cup of blood and fumigation 
with incense; who spend days of festivity, and [find] the 
liveliest pleasure in theatrical shows 4 and ballets ; who set 
out from heaven to see geldings running in vain, and with- 
out any reason, and rejoice that some of them pass [the rest], 
that others are passed, 5 rush on, leaning forward, and, with 
their heads towards the ground, are overturned on their 
backs with the chariots [to which they are yoked], are 
dragged along crippled, and limp with broken legs; who 
declare that the dancer has displeased them if some wicked 
fellow passes through the middle of the circus to suffer the 
punishment and penalty of his deeds ; who grieve that they 
are injured, and that the honours due to them are withheld 
if the pantomimist halts for a little, the player, being wearied, 
rests a little, that puer matrimus happens to fall, stumbling 
through some c unsteadiness ? Now, if all these things are 

1 Lit., " to the heights (apices) of gravity and weight," i.e. of that 
constancy of mind which is not moved by trifles. 

2 Lit., " of hurting and raging." 

3 i.e. evil dispositions. 

4 Lit., "motions." 

5 So the MS., according to Crusius, inserting transiri, which is omitted 
by Hild., either because it is not in the MS., or because he neglected 
to notice that Orellfs text was deficient. If omitted, we should trans- 
late, "that some pass, leaning forward, and rush with their heads 
towards the ground." 

6 Lit., " of something." 


considered thoroughly and without any partiality, they are 
found to be perfectly 1 alien not only to the [character of 
the] gods, but to that of any man of common sense, even 
although he has not been trained to zealous pursuit of truth 
by becoming acquainted with what is rational. 
l Lit„ "far and far." 





Aclierontic books, . . .131 

Hippo, .... 

. 211 

iElius, 176 

Homer, II, i. 423, . 

. 276 

Aethlius, .... 283 

xiv. 312, 

. 215 

Antias, 222 

Od. 296 sqq., . 

. 207 

Antiochus, Histories, ix., . 277 

Apollodorus, .... 207 


. 278 

Aristotle, . . . .171 

Leo Pellaeus, . 

. 211 

Arrian, ..... 147 

Libri Acherontici, . 

. 131 

,, Fatales, . 

. 360 

Butas, Causalia of, . . 241 

Lucilius, tbe Fornix of, 

CS, 242 

Lucretius, iv. 1160, 

. 157 

Ciesius, . . • . •„ • ^8 

Cicero, de Nat, Deor. i. 35, . 162 


. 176 

iii., . . . 154, 195 


. 175 

iii. 21, . . . 196 


175, 206 

iii. 33 sqq., . . 296 

pro Rose. Am. c. 32, . 262 


. 211 

Tusc. i. 10, . . . 72 

Nigidius, . . 172, 

178, 179 

Cincius, 177 

Numa Pompilius, Rituals of, . 

Clemens Alexandrinus, Aoye; 

Uporpi^r., . . . 154, 195 


242, 250 

Clodius, Sextus, de JDiis, lib. vi., 241 

Cornificius, . . . .176 


. 207 

Crates, 175 



Ctesias, Hist, i., . .43 

Philostephanus, Cypriaca of, 


Pindar, Pyth. iii. 102 sqq., 


Diagoras, . . . 24, 211 

Piso, .... 


Plato, Meno, st. p. 81, . 


Ennius, .... 162, 211 

Fhcedo, 64, . 


Ephorus, . . . .175 

„ 81, . . 


Epicharmus, .... 207 

„ 113, . . 


Epictetus, . . . .147 



Euhemerus, . . . .211 

„ 230, . 


Euripides, Hercules, . . 344 

„ 246, . 


274, . 


Fabius, 279 

Politicus, 269-274, 


Flaccus, 241 

Rcjmblic, 379, 




Granius, . .171, 176, 279 

Theatetus, 158, . 


173, . 

. 78 

Heraclitus, . . . 124, 253 

Timaius, 21, . 


Hermippus, .... 43 


8, 11 

Hesiod, Theog. 77-79, . .176 

41 ; 91, 103 

, 119, 120 

Hieronymus, .... 208 


. 343 


2 A 



Plutarch, .... 208 
Polemo, .... 208 

Pomponius, Marsyas of, \ "cS 

Posidippus, . . . 2S6, 297 
Ptoleinceus, History of Philo- 
pator, lib. i., . . , 278 

Sammonicus, . 
Sophocles, Trachinice, 

Tarentine poet, 

. 279 

217, 344 

. 20S 

. 244 
. 211 




Varro, 176, 178, 179, 18G, 283, 

depopulo Romano, i., 

de Admirandis, 

Polyandria, . 

Saturce Menipiicce, 
Virgil, JI£ n . vi. 472, 

Zeno, .... 






Abdeea, proverbial for stupidity, 

Abusive language, punished by law, 

Acantho, mother of the fourth Sun, 

Acdestis, birth of, 227 ; a herma- 
phrodite, 227 ; self-mutilated by 
the craft of Bacchus, 22S ; love of 
Attis, 229 ; fatal consequences of 
his fury, 230. 

Achaia, Christianity attested by 
miracles in, 70. 

Acheron, 80, 253. 

Achilles, 209. 

Acorns and chestnuts, the food of 
primitive men, S7, 13G. 

Acrisius, buried in temple of Minerva 
at Larissa, 277. 

Actseon, the horned hunter, 174. 

Actors, freed from taxes, 217. 

Admetus, served by Apollo, 207. 

Adonis, loved by Proserpine, 209. 

Adulterers, punished with death, 

iEacus, son of Jupiter, first builder 
of temples, 274 ; loved by the Xe- 
reid, 209. 

iElius, held that the Novensiles were 
the Muses, 176, 177. 

^neas, son-in-law of Latinus, 141 ; 
son of Venus, 209 ; deified, 177. 

/Esculapius, son of Coronis, 27 ; 
killed by lightning, 32, 206 ; dei- 
fied because he discovered use of 
herbs, 29, 32, 177 ; giver of health, 
135, 167 ; distinguished by his 
staff, 301 ; golden beard torn from 
a statue of, 296 ; three gods named, 

197 ; vintage festival of, 342 ; 
brought to Home in form of a ser- 
pent, 356. 

iEther, father of Jupiter, 195 ; shown 
not to be a god, 174. 

/Ethusa, loved by Apollo, 208. 

yEtna, torches of Ceres lit at, 248, 

Agdus, Mount, 227. 

Agesarchus, 278. 

Aii Locutii, 21. 

Alba, founded by Ascanius, 141 ; 
nourished for 400 years, 335 ; in- 
cense unknown in, 335. 

Alban Hill, white bulls sacrificed 
on, 138. 

Alcibiades, the Hermoe modelled 
after, 286. 

Alcmena, seduced by Jupiter, 140, 
245 ; mother of the Theban Her- 
cules, 203. 

Alcyone, 208. 

Alemanni, said to have been over- 
come because Christians were to 
be found amongst them, 14. 

Alimontian mysteries, 252. 

Allegorical explanation of mj'ths, 
150, 179 ; rejected by Arnobius, 

Alope, loved by Neptune, 208. 

Ambiguity of words, Jupiter en- 
snared by, 222. 

Amphitheatres places of bloodshed 
and wickedness, 72. 

Amphitrite, loved by Neptune, 208. 

Amymone, loved by Neptune, 20S. 

Anchises, loved by Venus, 27, 209. 

Angels' names, used as incantations, 



Animals, man closely allied to the 

other, 82, 83, 84, 92 ; man not 

morally superior to the other, 315 ; 

deified and worshipped, 21. 

Ant, Jupiter's conversion into an, 

Antiochus of Cyzicum, sacrilege of, 

Antiquity, the most fertile source of 
errors, 47. 

Ancient customs, not adhered to by 
heathens as well as by Christians, 

Anubis, dog-faced, 301. 

Apis, born in the Peloponnese, 28 ; 
called Serapis by the Egyptians, 
28 ; those punished who revealed 
the abode of, 278. 

Apollo, son of Jupiter and Latona, 
140, 204, 208 ; son of Minerva and 
Vulcan, 196, 19S ; accompanied 
his mother in her wanderings, 27 ; 
found refuge on a floating island, 
27 ; called Clarian, Delian, Didy- 
mean, Philesian, Pythian, 20 ; 
bow-bearing, 27, 204 ; Sminthian, 
173 ; deceived those who enriched 
his temples, 206 ; served Admetus 
and Laomedon, 207 ; pirates plun- 
dered and burned temples of, 298 ; 
identified with Bacchus and the 
sun, 173 ; Rituals of Kuma did 
not contain name of, 143 ; four 
gods named, 197 ; human heads 
offered to Dis and Saturn by ad- 
vice of, 138 ; and Neptune, the 
Penates, 181 ; Hyperoche and 
Laodice buried in temple of De- 
lian, 277 ; Telmessus buried under 
the altar of, 278 ; god of music, 
330 ; mistresses of, 208 ; repre- 
sented with lyre and plectrum, 

Apollonius, the Magian, 43. 

Aquilius, 32. 

Arabia, Christianity tested by 
miracles in, 76. 

Arabians, worshipped an unshaped 
stone, 283. 

Arcadia, Mars born in, 207. 

Archesilas, affirms that man knows 
nothing, 72. 

Archytas, assigns all things to num- 
bers, 72. 

Aristotle, adds a fifth element to the 
primary causes, 72 ; affirmed that 
Minerva was the moon, 171. 

Argos, destruction by fire of temple 
of Juno at, 298. 

Argus, slain by Mercury, 195, 301. 

Armenians, believed that one god 
was cause of all divine manifesta- 
tions, 195. 

Armenian, Zoroaster an, 43. 

Arnobius, date of, 13, 141 ; zeal as 
a heathen, 31. 

Arsinoe, loved by Apollo, 208. 

Asia, afflicted with mice and locusts 
because of the Christians, 14 ; 
Christianity attested by miracles 
in, 76. 

Asses, sacrificed to Mars by the 
Scythians, 207. 

Assyrians, war of Bactrians with, 8. 

Atellane farces, 344. 

Athenians, made their Hermse like 
Alcibiades, 286. 

Athens, fall of temple of Bacchus 
at, 298 ; Cecrops buried in temple 
of Minerva at, 277. 

Atlantis, the fabled island, 8. 

Atlas, prop of the skies, 139 ; grand- 
father of Mercury, 165. 

Attalus, sent from Phrygia to Rome 
a stone as the Great Mother, 362. 

Attagi, Phrygian name of goats, 

Attica, visited by Ceres, 263. 

Attis, worshipped in the temples of 
Cybele, 33; son of Nana, 229; 
loved by Cybele, 211, 229; self- 
mutilation and death of, 230 ; 
rites established in honour of, 
231 ; explained as the sun, 265. 

Aulus, Capitol named from, 279. 

Aurora's love of Tithonus, 209. 

Aventine, Jupiter drawn down to 
the, 223. 

Bacchanalia, two kinds of, 242. 

Bacchus, son of Semele, 173, 204 ; 
dashed by lightning from his 
mother's womb, 27 ; born again 
from his father's thigh, 204 ; giver 
of a good vintage, 135 ; represented 
as effeminate, 284 ; and as bearing 
a drinking-cup, 301 ; phalli dis- 
played at rites of, 252 ; identified 
with the sun, 173; goats sacrificed 
to, 328 ; called Evius, 253 ; Ny- 
sius, 252 ; Zagreus, 242 ; Bromius, 
204 ; torn in pieces by Titans, 
32, 242 ; destruction of temple at 
Athens of, 298. 

Bacis, the soothsayer, 51. 

Bactrian, Zoroaster a, 43. 

Bactrians, war of Assyrians with, 8. 

Bcebulus, the Magian, 43. 



Banquets of the gods, 342. 

Bark, used in ancient times for 
clothing, 136. 

Baubo, entertainer of Ceres at 
Eleusis, 248. 

Beetles, temples erected to, 21. 

Bellonse, 21, 1G8. 

Berecyntian goddess, 236. 

Binding of Mars and Venus, explained 
allegorically, 265. 

Birthdays of the gods, 343. 

Bocchores, 27. 

Bona Dea, story of, 241 ; original 
name, 27. 

Branch, a, worshipped by the Thes- 
pians, 283. 

Brides, hair of, arranged with hasta 
ccclibarix, 138. 

Brimo, Ceres named, 243. 

Bromius, name of Bacchus, 204. 

Brunda, .Simon Magus threw him- 
self from house-top at, 77. 

Burnus, god of lust, 191. 

Ccdibarls hasta, used in arranging 
hair of brides, 13S. 

Cseselii, 54. 

Coesius' enumeration of the Penates, 

Calamities, common to all ages, not 
caused by Christians, C. 

Calliope's son, Orpheus, 250. 

Canaeheni, 299. 

Canary Islands, 276. 

Cannce, proscription of Sulla com- 
pared to the battle of, 262. 

Capitol, Tolus Vulcentanus buried 
in the, 278 ; named from Olus, 
279 ; destroyed by fire, 298 ; struck 
by lightning, 351. 

Capitoline Jupiter burned along 
with the temple, 298. 

Capitoline Hill, taken by Titus 
Tatius, 186. 

Caprotina, name of Juno, 171. 

Carians, the, sacriliced dogs to Mars, 

Carneades, affirmed man's ignorance 
of all things, 72. 

Castor and Pollux, called Tyndarian 
brothers, 139; Dioscori, 204; sons 
of Jupiter and Leda, 140, 204; 
sons of Tyndareus, 27 ; buried in 
Lacedremonia, 208 ; three sets of 
gods named, 197. 

Castor, famed for his skill in ma- 
naging horses, 27. 

Castus, a fasting, 240. 

Catamitus, carried off to be a cup- 

bearer, 209 ; object of Jupiter's 
lust, 245. 

Cato, 161. 

Cats, temples built to, 21. 

Caudine Forks, llomans sent under 
the yoke at, 187. 

Cecrops, buried in the temple of 
Minerva at Athens, 277. 

Celeus, daughters of, buried in temple 
at Eleusis, 277. 

Cerberus, 253. 

Ceres, born in Sicily, 27 ; deified 
because she discovered use of 
bread, 29 ; gives good crops, 135 ; 
lusted after Jasion, 209 ; mother 
of Jupiter, according to Phry- 
gians, 242 ; violated by him, 243 ; 
wanderings of, 248 ; her sacred 
rites called Graica, 143 ; identified 
with Diana and Luna, 173 ; said 
by Ctcsius to be one of the Pen- 
ates, 178 ; represented with pro- 
truding breasts, 157, 301 ; her 
temple at Eleusis, 277 ; falling of 
rain upon the earth denoted by 
union of Jupiter and, 256, 2G6 ; 
bread denoted by, 268 ; feast in 
honour of, 343. 

Cestus, Juno's, 301. 

Cha^ronea, Plutarch of, 208. 

Chaldeans, mysterious learning of, 
8 ; believed that one God appeared 
in all divine manifestations, 195. 

Childbirth, Juno set over, 166. 

Charms, used to appease unknown 
powers, 79. 

Christ, recalled men from their 
errors, 29 ; revealed God's nature, 
29 ; and man's condition and pro- 
spects, 30 ; was sent as a Saviour, 
44, 55 ; His authority established 
by His mighty works, 36, 37, 39, 
40, 74 ; and by His transmitting 
this power to His followers, 41, 
42 ; said to have been a sorcerer, 
34 ; but in Him there was nothing 
magical, nothing delusive, 44 ; 
helped all who came to Him, 40 ; 
access to the light only by, 135 ; 
invites all alike, 133 ; did harm 
to no one, but declared even to 
His enemies the way of salvation, 
57 ; divine, 33, 44 ; the universe 
thrown into confusion at cruci- 
fixion of, 44 ; did not die, but His 
human form, 51 ; became incar- 
nate, that He might mix with men, 
50; was crucified for reasons be- 
yond human comprehension, 52 ; 



the reason for the time of His ap- 
pearance with God, 144 ; but an 
explanation may be found, 144, 
145 ; the divine compassion ex- 
tended to those who died before, 
132 ; demons put to flight by the 
name of, 37 ; the secret thoughts 
of men known to, 37. 

Christians, worship the supreme 
God, 20 ; worship Christ as giver 
of eternal life, 31, 101 ; prefer 
Christ's friendship to all that is 
in the world, 67 ; laughed at for 
their faith, 71 ; had more reason 
to follow Christ than the heathen 
to trust the philosophers, 74 ; 
called atheists, 169 ; said to be 
stupid and senseless, 21, 78, 160 ; 
exiled, tortured, given to the 
beasts, burned, 19, 218 ; have 
learned not to requite evil with 
evil, 9 ; no hope of aid as to this 
life held out to, 146 ; death brings 
release to, ]47 ; accused of being 
the cause of all calamities, 3, 6 ; 
built no temples, and offered no 
sacrifices, 271, 272. 

Christianity, novelty of, no real ob- 
jection, 136, 138, 140, 142; the 
way of salvation, 135. 

Chrysippus, object of Jupiter's lust, 

Chrysippus, asserted that the world 
would be destroyed by fire, 72. 

Chrysis, Juno's priestess, burned at 
Argos, 298. 

Cicero, the most eloquent of the 
Eomans, 154. 

Cincian law against gifts to advo- 
cates, 137. 

Cincius, regards the Novensiles as 
the gods of conquered states, 
deities brought from abroad, 177. 

Cinxia, a name of Juno, 171 ; pre- 
sides over the loosening of the 
zone, 16S ; the Thespians worship 
a branch as, 283. 

Cinyras, king of Cyprus, 207; king of 
Paphos, 278; deified Venus, a cour- 
tezan, 207; was buried in temple 
of Venus, 278 ; founder of the 
mysteries of Cyprian Venus, 242. 

Circe, mother of the fifth Sun, 196. 

Circus, story of re-celebration of the 
games of the, 35. 

Cleochus (or Clearchus), buried in 
the Didymteon at Miletus, 278. 

Clitor, daughter of, seduced by 
Jupiter, 209. 

Cnidian Venus, copied from a courte- 
zan, 286. 

Cocytus, river in Hades, 80. 

Ccelus, father of Saturn and Ops by 
Hecate, 141, 171 ; of the second 
Jupiter, 195 ; of the first Mercury, 
196 ; of the Muses, 175 ; of Janus 
by Hecate, 170 ; Venus produced 
from the genitals of, 206. 

Complices and Consentes, said to be 
the Penates, 178. 

Concord, temples built to, 184, 185. 

Conserentes dli, parents of Servius 
Tullius, 241. 

Consus, god of devices, 166. 

Corniculum, Ocrisia brought to Rome 
from, 241. 

Cornificius, maintains that Noven- 
siles preside over renovation, 177. 

Coronis, mother of ^Esculapius, 27. 

Corybantes, rites of the, 242. 

Coryphasia, epithet of the fourth 
Minerva, 197, 199. 

Crates, affirms that there are eight 
Muses, 175. 

Crete, Jupiter born and buried in, 
196, 208. 

Cronius, 74. 

Cupids, three sets of winged, 197. 

Curetes, drowned the cries of Jupiter, 
179 ; saved him from death, 206. 

Cyceon, the draught offered to Ceres 
by Baubo, 249. 

Cyllenian, bearer of the caduceus, 

Cyprian Venus, statue of, loved by 
Pygmalion, 297. 

Cyrus, 43. 

Cytherean, the, i.e. Venus, 286. 

Cyzicum, sacrilege of Antiochus of, 

Dactyli Idoei identified with the 

Digiti Samothracii, 179. 
Dairas, buried in the enclosure at 

Eleusis, 277. 
Damigero, a Magian, 43. 
Danae, loved by Jupiter, 245. 
Dancer stops, expiation required if 

the, 213. 
Daphne, loved by Apollo, 208. 
Dardanus, the Magian, 43 ; Dar- 

danus first celebrated rites of the 

Phrygian Mother, 143. 
Dead, prayers for the, 218. 
Decemvirs, decrees of the, 216. 
Deluge, Varro's computation of the 

time of the, 232 ; human race de- 
stroyed by, 8. 



Democritus' atomic theory, 72. 

Desires, Venus the mother of the, 

Deucalion and Pyrrha, re-peopled 
the earth, 227. 

Diagoras of Melos, denies that there 
are gods, 25, 211. 

Dialis, flamen, mitred, 42, 216. 

Diana, daughter of Jupiter and 
Latona, 139, 204 ; daughter of the 
first Minerva, 198 ; bow-bearing, 
found refuge on floating islands, 
27 ; mighty in hunting, 164, 204 ; 
wars of the virgin, 211 ; repre- 
sented with thighs half covered, 
301 ; an unhewn log worshipped 
by the Icarians for, 283 ; fall of 
temple at Ephesus of, 298; Leuco- 
phryne buried in temple of, 278 ; 
shrine in Delian Apollo's temple 
of, 277 ; theologians mention three 
goddesses named, 197 ; identified 
with Ceres and Luna, 173. 

Didymceon, Cleochus buried in the 
Milesian, 278. 

Diespiter, son of Saturn and Ops, 
202 ; lusted after his mother Ceres, 
243 ; names of some who bore 
children to, 140. 

Digiti Samothracii, said to be the 
Lares, 179, 181. 

Dindymene, Pessinuntic, i.e. Cybele 
worshipped at Pessinus, 217. 

Diomede, plains of, i.e. Cannse, 187. 

Dione, bore Venus to Jupiter, 27, 

Dionysius, robbed Jupiter and iEscu- 
lapius of their beards, 296. 

Dionysus (see Bacchus), five gods 
named, 197. 

Dioscori, sons of Leda and Jupiter, 

Dis, identified with Summanus, 275; 
human heads offered to, 138 ; 
wounded by Hercules, 208 ; alle- 
gorical explanation of rape of 
Proserpine by, 266, 276 ; gate of, 
i.e. Hades, 253. 

Discordia?, 168. 

Dodona, Jupiter of, 26, 298 ; fall of 
Jupiter's temple at, 298. 

Dogs, employed to guard the capitols, 

Dysaules, a goatherd in Attica, 24S. 

Earth, the, identifiedwith the Great 
Mother, Ceres, and Vesta, 172 ; 
a pregnant sow sacrificed to, 329 ; 
birthday of, 343. 

Egeria, Xuma advised by, 223. 

Egypt, Christianity attested by 
mighty works in, 76 ; Apis called 
Serapis in, 27 ; letters invented by 
the lifth Mercury in, 196. 

Egyptians, dumb animals worshipped 
by, 160; Christ said to have stolen 
the secrets of His power and teach- 
ing from the, 34 ; punished those 
who revealed the dwelling-place of 
Apis, 278 ; called the second Mi- 
nerva Neith, 19S ; were afraid to 
utter the fourth Mercury's name, 
196 ; believed that one deity was 
manifested under the various di- 
vine manifestations, 195. 

Electra, seduced by Jupiter, 245. 

Elements, number of the primary, 
124 ; mistake as to Aristotle's 
conception of the elements, 72. 

Eleusinia, origin of the, 249, 250 ; 
signs used in the, 251. 

Eleusis, Ceres' visit to, 248 ; Dairas 
and Irnmarnachus buried in the 
enclosure of, 277 ; temple of Ceres 
at, 277. 

Eleutherius, temple at Athena of 
Liber, 298. 

Endymion, loved by Luna, 209. 

Ennius, translated works of Euhe- 
merus, 211. 

Ephesus, fall of Diana's temple at, 

Epicadi, 54. 

Epicurus, atomic theory of, 72 ; 
teaches that the soul is mortal, 97. 

Epidaurus, iEsculapius brought 
from, 355 ; he of, i.e. ^Esculapius, 

Epirus, Christianity attested by 
mighty works in, 76. 

Equity, deified, 1S5. 

Erechthidag, i.e. Athenians, 251. 

Ericthonius, buried in shrine of 
Minerva, 277. 

Ethiopian sun, Isis tanned by, 27. 

Ethiopians, visited by the gods, 276. 

Etruria, mother of superstition, 335; 
arts of, i.e. charms and sacred 
rites, 241. 

Etruscans, the, identified Penates, 
andConsentes, and Complices, 179. 

Eubuleus, a swineherd in Attica, 

Eumolpida?, origin of, 24S. 

Eumolpus, keeper of sheep in Attica, 

Europa, seduced by Jupiter, 245 ; 
represented on the stage, 343. 



Evius, performance of his shameful 
promise by, 253. 

Fabius, a favourite of Jupiter, 209. 

Fate, all things happen according to, 

Fatua Fauna, i.e. Bona Dea, wife 
of Faunus, 27, 241 ; unlawful to 
bring in myrtle twigs to the rites 
of, 241 ; account of her death and 
rites, 241. 

Fatuse, 21. 

Fauni, 21. 

Faunus, son of Picus, and father of 
Latinus, 71 ; ensnared and bound 
by Numa's craft, 223 ; made the 
Aventine his haunt, 223. 

Fawn's skin, worn by the initiated, 

Februtis, a name of Juno, 171. 

Fescennine verses, sung at marriages, 

Fetiales, the forms of the, neglected, 

Fillets, worn by suppliants, 246. 

Fire, the origin of all things, 72. 

Flint, people of Pessinus worship a, 

Flora, watches over the blossoming 
of plants, 166 ; a harlot, 166 ; 
shameful actions done openly at 
games of, 344. 

Floralia, the, 343. 

Fluonia (or Fluvionia), a name of 
Juna, 171. 

Fons, son of Janus, 170. 

Fortune, a deity, 135 ; one of the 
Penates, according to Csesius, 
178, 181 ; represented with a horn 
fdled with fruit, 301. 

Fortuna Virginalis, maidens' gar- 
ments offered to, 138. 

Frugifer, a god with lion's face 
called, 282. 

Furies, the, 168, 253. 

Forks, Caudine, overthrow of Ro- 
mans at, 187. 

Gabijstius, the consul, 142. 

Geetuli, afflicted with droughts be- 
cause of the Christians, 14. 

Gain, gods of, 191. 

Galatians, Christianity attested by 
mighty works among the, 76. 

Gallus, mutilation of a daughter of, 
230, 237. 

Galli, priests of the Great Mother, 
33 ; beat their breasts, wailing for 
Attis, 240, 241. 

Ganymede, carried off to satisfy 
Jupiter's lust, 267 ; represented 
on the stage in ballets, 343. 

Garamantes, the tawny, 276. 

Gaul, innumerable Christians in, 14. 

Geese, the guardians of the Capitol, 

Genii of husbands, invoked at mar- 
riages, 138. 

Gsnii of states, 21. 

Genius Jovialis, said to be one of 
the Penates, 178, 181. 

Germans, irruptions of the, regarded 
as special calamities caused by 
the Christians, 8. 

Ghosts, the Lares said to be, 180. 

Gnidus, statue of Venus at, loved 
by a young man, 297. 

Goats, sacrificed to Bacchus and 
Mercury, 328 ; torn in pieces by 
bacchanals, 242. 

God, the Lord of all things, the 
highest existence, 19, 20, 24, 25, 
63, 150 ; before all things, 22, 24, 
142 ; without form, 24, 158, 346 j 
devoid of sex, 155, 346 ; uncreated, 
immortal, everlasting, 24, 102, 
142 ; all agree that there is one 
supreme, 102 ; cannot be known 
by men, 345 ; all-powerful, 101 ; 
the creator of all things, 24, 150 ; 
the preserver of all things, 113 ; 
and the only one who can preserve 
souls, 131 ; nothing hurtful or 
pernicious proceeds from, 123 ; 
alJ, without exception, have ex- 
perienced the compassion of, 132 ; 
all men know, by nature, 64 ; and 
no one doubts the existence of, 25, 
130 ; although some deny it, 125 ; 
is not Jupiter, 27. 

Gods, the, corruptible by nature, 
according to Plato, 103 ; born at 
some time, 24, 139, 346 ; of both 
sexes, 154, 346 ; have mistresses, 
brides, wives, 202 ; are hushed to 
sleep and awakened by their wor- 
shippers' hymns, 214, 342 ; are 
parched with thirst, 339 ; eat and 
drink, delighting in splendid ban- 
quets, 214, 334 ; are exposed to 
attacks of disease, etc., 164 ; can- 
not defend themselves, 16, 296, 
302 ; make war upon each other, 
and are wounded, 215 ; take plea- 
sure in shameful sights, 343, 344 ; 
and still more shameful acts, 209, 
214 ; accuse the cruel fates, 215 ; 
are ignorant of the future, 163 ; 



are artificers like mortals, 103 ; 
even act the part of slaves, 207, 
211 ; are washed to make them 
clean, ,342; were supposed to be 
angry at the Christians, 3, 18, 
347 ; but had greater reason to be 
enraged at their worshippers, 21, 
157, 1C1, 212, 219 ; were immor- 
tal, not in themselves, but through 
God's gift, 103 ; each set over 
some one thing, 135, 1C6 ; the 
true, do not wish for sacrifices, 
307, 348 ; and are not soothed by 
them, 316 ; are free from pas- 
sions, 272, 311 ; were supposed to 
dwell in their images, 294 ; al- 
though these were made of vile 
materials, 2S8 ; lay aside their 
anger when they receive sacritices, 
314, 318 ; accuse and make de- 
fences, 105 ; sinister, 1S7, 330 ; 
lesser, G4 ; Syrian, sprung from 
eggs, 28 ; of conquered states in- 
troduced by llomans into their 
families, 177 ; suppliants to some 
veiled, to others uncovered the 
head, 181. 

Gra3ca, rites of Ceres, 143. 

Gratina, loved by Praxiteles, and 
taken as model of Cnidian Venus, 

Grits mixed with salt, or sacrificial 
meal offered to the gods, 167, 225. 

Grundules Lares, 21. 

Guardian deities, favour of, with- 
held, 107. 

Guilt, contracted if the dancer 
halted or musician was silent, 213. 

Hades, punishment in, 96 ; exist- 
ence of, denied, 327. 

Hammon, represented with a ram's 
horns, 284. 

Hannibal's invasion of Italy, Phry- 
gian mother's worship introduced 
at the time of, 143, 361 ; driven 
out of Italy by the goddess, 362. 

Happiness, deified and worshipped, 
184, 185. 

Hasta ctelibaris, hair of brides ar- 
ranged with, 138. 

Hearths, presided over by the god 
Lateranus, 189. 

Heathen, the, hatred of the Chris- 
tians by, 26, 147, 21S ; reviled 
Christians as illiterate, 4S ; dis- 
honoured their own gods, 153, 
157, 255 ; dishonoured their gods 
in sacrificing to them, 324, 340. 

Hecate, mother of Saturn and Ops, 
141 ; mother of Janus, 170. 

Helenus, the soothsayer, 51. 

Hellespontian Priapus, 157. 

Henna, grove of, whence Proserpine 
was carried off, 259. 

Heraclitus, referred the origin of all 
things to fire, 72. 

Hercules, burned alive after pun- 
ishment, 27, 32 ; son of Jupiter 
and Alcmena, 140, 209 ; this the 
Theban defended by his club and 
hide, 204 ; worshipped as divine, 
144, 153 ; a mortal, deified, 177 ; 
wounded by Hippocoon's children, 
208 ; entangled in robe of Nessus, 
217 ; violated the fifty daughters 
of Thestius, 209; wounded Dis 
and Juno, 208 ; put an end to 
human sacrifices in Italy, 138 ; 
was a slave at Sardis, 207 ; burned 
on Mount (Eta after an attack of 
epilepsy, 208; the Theban, burned 
on Mount CEta, 27; the Phoenician, 
buried in Spain, 27; six gods 
named, 197 ; deified because he 
subdued robbers, wild beasts, and 
serpents, 29. 

Hermoe at Athens like x\lcibiades, 

Heroes, of immense and huge bodies, 

Heroic a^es, incense unknown in 
the, 3:^5. 

Hesperides, golden apples of the, 242. 

Hippo of Melos, 211. 

Hippocoon's children, Hercules 
wounded by, 208. 

Hippothoe, seduced by Neptune, 20S. 

Hirtius and Pansa, deluge not quite 

. two thousand years before the 
consulship of, 232. 

Honour, deified and worshipped, 
184, 1S5. 

Hosthanes, grandfather of the Ar- 
menian Zoroaster, 43. 

Human sacrifices, offered to Dis and 
Saturn, 13S. 

Hyacinthus, 209. 

Hylas, 209. 

Hyperboreans, 27S. 

Hyperiona, mother by Jupiter of the 
second Sun, 190, 204. 

Hyperoche, buried in the shrine of 
Diana, 277. 

Hypsipyle, loved by Apollo, 208. 

Ia, bride of Attis, 230 ; her blood 
turned into violets, 230. 



Iachus nursed (or loved) by Ceres, 

lalysus, son of the fourth Sun, 19G. 

Icarians, the, worship an unhewn 
log, 283. 

Idaci Dactyli, Greek name of Digiti 
Samothracii, 179. 

Ignorance the lot of man, 72. 

Ilium, girt with walls by Apollo and 
Neptune, 178. 

Immarnachus, buried in the enclo- 
sure at Eleusis, 277. 

Incense, unknown in the heroic age, 
335 ; not used by the Etruscans 
in their rites, 335 ; nor at Alba, 
335 ; nor by Romulus and Numa, 
335 ; termed Panchasan gum, 336. 

India, Christianity attested by 
mighty works in, 76 ; Liber 
sought to make himself master 
of, 211. 

Indians, the, believed that one god 
showed himself in all the mani- 
festations of the divine, 195. 

Indigetes, deified mortals, 54. 

Indigetes, living in the Numicius, 

Inferium vinum, phrase used in 
libations, 340. 

Inuus, guardian of flocks and herds, 

Iphigenia, stags spoken of instead 
of, 258. 

Isis, Ethiopian, 27 ; Egyptian, 211 ; 
lamenting her lost child and hus- 
band torn in pieces, 27 ; worship 
of, introduced after consulship of 
Piso and Gabinius, 142 ; statue 
of, burned, 298. 

Itali, Saturn concealed in the terri- 
tories of the, 206. 

Images, Christ raised men's thoughts 
from senseless, 31; formed of clay, 
31, 150, 292; bones, stones, brass, 
silver, gold, wood, and other ma- 
terials, 288; made like infamous 
men and women, 286, 2S7 ; the 
gods said to be worshipped 
through, 2S0 ; fanciful shape of 
some, 282 ; disregarded by birds 
and beasts, 291 ; the gods caused 
to dwell in, 292; must be defend- 
ed by men, notwithstanding the 
indwelling divinity, 295; despoiled 
by Antiochus and Dionysius, 296; 
used lewdly, 297 ; and even 
utterly consumed by fire, 298 ; 
set up to strike evil-doers with 
terror, 300. 

Italy, visit of Hercules to, 138. 

Jantculum, founded by Janus, 27, 

Janus, 153 ; son of Ccelus and 
Hecate, 170; husband of Ju- 
turna and father of Eons, 170 ; 
first king in Italy, 170; repre- 
sented as double-faced, and carry- 
ing a spiked key, 301 ; said to be 
the world, the year, the sun, 170 ; 
supposed to procure a hearing for 
suppliants, 170 ; and therefore 
mentioned first in all prayers, 170. 

Jasion, loved by Ceres, 209. 

Jovialis, genius, one of the Penates, 
17S, 181. 

Julian, a magian, 43. 

Juno, 135, 153, 204, 140 ; daughter 
of Saturn and Ops, 139 ; queen of 
the gods, 204 ; wounded by Her- 
cules, 20S ; named Lucina, and 
aiding women in childbirth, 157, 
166 ; said to be the air, 171 ; 
destruction of the temple, and 
priestess of, 29S; and in the Capi- 
tol of the statue of, 298; named 
Caprotina, Cinxia, Februtis, Flu- 
onia, 171 ; Ossipagina, Pomona, 
Populonia, 171 ; the cestus of, 
301 ; as Cinxia, a branch wor- 
shipped for, 283 ; Samians wor- 
ship a plank instead of, 283 ; one 
of the Penates, 179. 

Jupiter, the greatest and best, 26 ; 
is not God, 27 ; had father and 
mother, 26 ; the Saturnian king, 
204 ; son of iEtker, 195 ; son of 
Ccelus, 195 ; son of Saturn, 196 ; 
of Saturn and Ops, 139, 141, 171, 
202 ; born in Crete, 196 ; con- 
cealed in Crete, 171 ; buried in 
Crete, 196, 208 ; his cries con- 
cealed, 179 ; and his life saved 
by the Curetes, 206 ; overthrew 
his father, 206 ; the acts of, 211 ; 
made a meal unwittingly on 
Lycaon's son, 206 ; married his 
sister, 206 ; attempted to violate 
the mother of the gods, 227; lusted 
after Alcmena, Danae, Electra, Eu- 
ropa, and matrons and maidens 
without number, 245, 140 ; even 
after the boys Catamitus, 209, 
245, and Fabius, 209; ravished 
his daughter Proserpine, 244 ; for 
lustful purposes became an ant, 
a golden shower, a satyr, 267 ; a 
swan, 205, 27 ; and a bull, 205, 



243 ; spoken of as recounting his 
amours to his wife, 215 ; said to 
be the sun, 171 ; and by others 
to be the ether, 171 ; three gods 
named, 195 ; father of Apollo, 
Diana, Castor and Pollux, Her- 
cules, Liber, Mercury, 139, 204 ; 
of the Muses, 139, 175 ; of the 
Sun, 190 ; of Hercules, 209, 217 ; 
Diespiter, 140, 202; fall at Do- 
dona of the temple of, 29S; destruc- 
tion of the statue of Capitoline, 
298, 351 ; termed Capitoline, 42, 
298; the Thunderer, 29S ; the 
Olympian, 286 ; the Supreme, 
139; the Stygian, i.e. Pluto, 139; 
Verveceus, 244 ; of Dodona, 19, 
298 ; bulls sacrificed to, 329 ; re- 
presented with a thunderbolt in 
his right hand, 301 ; and as driv- 
ing in a winged chariot, 171 ; 
gave power to the Novensiles to 
wield his thunder, 177 ; Pales the 
steward of, 17S ; the counsellors 
of, 178, 179 ; one of the Penates, 
179 ; represented as an adulterer, 
217 ; and as easily overreached, 
222, 224 ; forced to leave heaven 
by Numa, 223 ; statues of, dis- 
honoured, 29G ; descent of rain 
signified by the embraces of Ceres, 
256, 266 ; the feast of, 342 ; ludi 
circenses celebrated in honour of, 
Juturna, wife of Janus, 170. 

Kixgs, speaking against, considered 
treason, 216. 

Kronos, explained as chronos, i.e. 
time, 170 ; son of Ccelus and pro- 
genitor of the dli magni, 171. 

Knees of images touched by sup- 
pliants, 291. 

LACEDiEMox, Castor and Pollux 
buried in, 208. 

Laodamia, seduced by Jupiter, 245. 

Laodice, buried in the shrine of 
Diana, 277. 

Laomedon, served by Neptune, 207. 

Lares, commonly said to be gods of 
streets and ways, from the sup- 
posed etymology, 179 ; guardians 
of houses, 179 : identified some- 
times with the Curetes, some- 
times with the Digiti Samothracii, 
179 ; identified with the Manes, 
180 ; said to be gods of the air, 
and also to be ghosts, ISO. 

Lares Grundules, 21. 

Larissa, Acrisius buried in Minerva's 
temple at, 277. 

Lateranus, the genius of hearths, 
189, 193. 

Latinus, grandson of Picus, and 
son of Faunus, 141 ; father-in- 
law of ^Eneas, 141. 

Latium, Saturn concealed in, 206. 

Latona, seduced by Jupiter, 245 ; 
mother of Apollo and Diana, 27, 
139, 164, 204 ; wanderings of, 27. 

Laverna, goddess of thieves, 168. 

Laura3, Lares said to be derived 
from, 179. 

Lectisternium of Ceres, 343. 

Leda, seduced by Jupiter, 140, 245 ; 
mother of the Dioscori, 204 ; re- 
presented on the stage, 343. 

Left and right, merely relative terms, 
187, 188 ; lucky, isS. 

Lemnos, Vulcan wrought as a smith 
at, 196, 206. 

Leucophryne, buried in Diana's sanc- 
tuary, 278. 

Libations, in honour of the gods, 
338, 339 ; formula used in, 340. 

Libels, severely punished, 216. 

Libentina, goddess of lust, 191. 

Libentini (?), 21. 

Liber, a deified mortal, 143, 177 ; 
deified because he taught men to 
use wine, 29 ; son of Jupiter and 
Semele, 139, 204, 252 ; Indian 
campaign of, 211 ; torn in pieces 
by the Titans, 32, 242 ; called 
Eleutherius, 298 ; Nysius, 252 ; 
visit to Tartarus of, 252 ; filthy 
practices of, 253 ; allegorical ex- 
ilian ation of the tearing in pieces 
of, 266. 

Libera, i.e. Proserpine, daughter of 
Jupiter and Ceres, 244. 

Lima, goddess of thresholds, 191. 

Limentinus, god of thresholds, 191, 
193 ; gives omens in entrails of 
the victims, 194. 

Limi, preside over obliquities, 192. 

Lion, images with face of, 282. 

Locusts, destruction of crops by, said 
to be caused by Christians, 7, 14. 

Locutii, Aii, 21. 

Log, worshipped by the Icarians 
for Diana, 2S3. 

Lucina, aiding women in childbirth, 

Lullabies, sung to the gods, 342. 

Luna, lusted after Endymion, 209 ; 
identified with Diana and Ceres, 



173 ; cannot be a deity if a part 

of the world, 174. 
Luperca, a goddess named, because 

the she-wolf did not rend Romulus 

and Remus, 186. 
Lust, unnatural, attributed to the 

gods, 209. 
Lycaon, Jupiter ate part of the son 

of, 206. 
Lydia, 229. 
Lynceus, piercing gaze of, 205. 

Macarus, father of Megalcon, 206. 

Macedonia, Christianity attested by 
mighty works in, 76 ; starting- 
point of Alexander the Great, 9. 

Magi, in heathen ceremonials, relics 
of the arts of the, 332 ; arts of 
the, had no good purpose, 35 ; 
demons won over by the charms 
of the, 131 ; said to raise by their 
incantations other gods than those 
invoked, 194; enumeration of fa- 
mous, 43 ; used herbs and mut- 
tered spells in their incantations, 

Magian, used as equivalent to sor- 
cerer, 34. 

Magistrate, insults to a, severely 
punished, 216. 

Magnesia, Diana's sanctuary at, 

Magus, Simon, overthrown by Peter, 

Maia, the beautiful, 27 ; mother of 
the third Mercury, 27, 140, 196, 
204, 284. 

Man, ignorant of his own nature, 
69 ; such as the lower creatures, 
82 ; possessed of reason, 83 ; not 
immortal, 95 ; wretchedness of 
the life of, 107, 108, 109, 317 ; a 
microcosm, 91 ; not necessary in 
the universe, 105 ; utmost extent 
of life of, 141 ; depraved in coming 
into life, 82. 

Manes, the Lares said to be the, 
180 ; inhabitants of infernal re- 
gions, 327. 

Mania, mother of the Lares, ISO. 

Manium, dii, 327. 

Marcius, a soothsayer, 51. 

Marcus Cicero, 161. 

Marpesian rock, proverbial com- 
parison, 90. 

Marpessa, loved by Apollo, 208. 

Mars, born in Arcadia (?), 207; born 
in Thrace, 207 ; said to be Spar- 
tanus, 207; set over war, 168; 

held prisoner for thirteen months, 
207 ; loved by Ceres, 209 ; en- 
snared by Vulcan, 207 ; wounded 
by men, 207 ; a spear worshipped 
by the Romans as, 283 ; dogs and 
asses sacrificed to, 207 ; otherwise 
Mavors, 285 ; fighting signified 
by, 268 ; allegorical explanation 
of the binding of Venus and, 265, 
266 ; the Romans spoken of as the 
race of, 217. 

Marriage, forms observed in, 137, 
138 ; three modes of contracting, 
202 ; advocacy of promiscuous, 54. 

Marriages, Fescennine verses sung 
at, 202. 

Marsi, sold charms against serpent 
bites, 99. 

Martius Picus, entrapped by Numa's 
craft, 223. 

Mavors, i.e. Mars, 285. 

Medes, Christianity attested by 
mighty works amongst, 76. 

Megalcon, daughter of Macarus, and 
mistress of the Muses, 206. 

Megalensia, mode of celebration of, 

Meles, son of the river, i.e. Homer, 

Mellonia, goddess presiding over 
bees and honey, 190 ; supposed to 
introduce herself into the entrails 
of the victim to give omens, 194. 

Memory, wife of Jupiter, 140 ; 
mother of the Muses, 175. 

Men, sprung from the stones cast 
by Deucalion and Pyrrha, 227 ; 
in early times of immense size, 
145 ; deified because of benefits 
conferred on the race, 28, ' 29 ; 
souls shut up in bodies, 79. 

Menalippe, seduced by Neptune, 

Mens, wife of Jupiter, and mother 
of the Muses, 175 ; mother of 
Minerva, 172. 

Mercury, of service to men, 135, 
143 ; son of Jupiter, 139, 204, 196 ; 
son of Maia, 27, 140, 196, 204, 
284 ; grandson of Atlas, 165 ; five 
gods named, 196 ; lusted after 
Proserpina, 196 ; eloquent in 
speech, 165, 204 ; bearer of the 
caduceus, 172 ; of the harmless 
snakes, 204 ; born on the cold 
mountain top, 172 ; presides over 
boxing and wrestling, 167 ; and 
commercial intercourse and mar- 
kets, 172 : contriver of words, 



and named from the interchange 
of speech, 172 ; represented with 
■wings, 301 ; and wearing a broad- 
brimmed cap, 284, 2S5 ; beard- 
less, 285 ; slayer of Argus, 190, 
301 ; a thief, 206 ; termed Cyl- 
lenian, 172 ; the second, named 
Trophonius, under the earth, 19G ; 
the first, son of Ccelus, and the 
fourth, of the Nile, 190 ; the fifth, 
slayer of Argus, and inventor of 
letters, 196 ; goats sacrificed to, 
32S, 329. 

Mercury, i.e. Hermes Trismegistus, 

Merops, the first builder of temples, 

Metrodorus, held the atomic theory, 

Midas, first to establish worship of 
the Phrygian mother, 143 ; king 
of Pessinus, 229 ; wished to give 
his daughter in marriage to Attis, | 
229, 230. 

Milesian Didynueon, Cleochus buried 
in the, 278. 

Militaris Venus, presiding over the 
debauchery of camps, 189. 

Mind, the, affected by ailments of 
the body, 70. 

Minerva, 153; sprung from Jupiter's 
head, 140, 172 ; daughter of Mens, 
172 ; daughter of Victory, 172 ; 
five goddesses named, 190 ; the 
first, mother of Apollo by Vulcan, 
196 ; the second, identified with 
ISais, daughter of the Nile, 190 ; 
the fourth, named Coryphasia by 
the Messenians, 197 ; the fifth, 
daughter and slayer of Pallas, 
197 ; said by some to be one of 
the Penates, 179 ; the wars of, 
211 ; worshipped because she dis- 
covered the olive, 29 ; gives light 
to secret lovers, 207 ; temples of, 
used as places of burial, 277 ; 
image of, burned, 298 ; a heifer 
sacrificed to, 329 ; termed Trito- 
nian, 165, 330 ; represented with 
a helmet, 301 ; said by Aristotle 
to be the moon, 171 ; said to be 
depth of ether, and memory, 171 ; 
spins and weaves, 165 ; used to 
denote weaving, 268 ; citizens of, 
i.e. Athenians, 251 ; called Polias, 
Money, a goddess, 192. 
Montinus, guardian of mountains, 

Moors, 14 ; worshipped the Titans 

and Bocchores, 27. 
Morning, hymns sung to the deities 

in the, 342. 
Mother of the gods, married to 
Saturn, 172 ; fed Nana with apples, 
229 ; a pine brought into the 
sanctuary of, 239, 202 ; a flint 
worshipped by the people of Pes- 
sinus for, 283 ; represented as 
bearing a timbrel, 301. 

Mother, Great, said to be the earth, 
172 ; Attis worshiped in the 
temples of, 33 ; represented with 
fillets, 217 ; termed Pessinuntic 
Dindymene, 217 ; birth and origin 
of rites of, 227; did not exist more 
than two thousand years before 
Christ, 232; brought from Pes- 
sinus to repel Hannibal, 301 ; a 
black stone worshipped instead of, 
302 ; why represented as crowned 
with towers, 229, 240. 

Mother, the Phrygian, first set up 
as a goddess, 143. 

Mulciber, dressed as a workman, 

Murcia, guardian of the slothful, 192. 

Muses, the, daughters of Jupiter and 
Memory, 139, 175; of Coelus and 
Tellus, 175 ; three sets of Muses, 
197; nine in number, 104, 170; 
number of, stated differently as 
three, four, seven, 175 ; and eight, 
170 ; said by some to be virgins, 
by others matrons, 175; identified 
with the Novensiles, 170 ; repre- 
sented with pipes and psalteries, 
301 ; handmaids of Megalcon, 200. 

Musician, guilt contracted at the 
games by the silence of the, 213. 

Mutunus, a deity, 193. 

Myndus, Zeno of, 278. 

Myrmidon, son of Clitor's daughter, 

Mysteries, the pontifical, 332; named 
initia, 241 ; of Venus, 242 ; Phry- 
gian, 242, 244 ; of Ceres, 247 ; 
Alimontian, 252, 202. 

NJBNIA, goddess of those near death, 

Nana, daughter of king Sangarius, 
228 ; debauched by an apple, 228, 
230 ; kept alive by the mother of 
the gods, 229 ; mother of Attis, 
229, 230. 

Nativities, art of calculating, 139. 

Natrix, the deadly, 15. 



Nebridse, family of the, 263. 

Neith, name of the second Minerva 
in Egypt, 198. 

Nemestrinus, god of groves, 190. 

Neptune, believed to be serviceable 
to men, 135 ; king of the sea, 
208, 172, 285 ; brother of Pluto 
and Jupiter, 172; mistresses of, 
208 ; girt Ilium with walls, 178 ; 
served the Trojan Laomedon, 207; 
lord of the fish and shaker of the 
earth, 172 ; one kind of Penates 
said by the Etruscans to belong 
to, 178 ; the Atlantis of, 8 ; armed 
with the trident, 172, 285; said 
to have been one of the Penates, 
178, 181 ; means the outspread 
water, 172, 268. 

Nereid, loved ^Eacus, 209. 

Nile, father of the second Minerva, 
196, 198; father of the fourth 
Mercury and of Vulcan, 196. 

Ninus, leader of the Assyrians 
against the Bactrians, 8. 

Nisi, 54. 

JN oduterensis, a goddess presiding 
over the treading out of grain, 
190, 193. 

Nodutis, a god presiding over the 
shooting corn, 190. 

Novensiles, nine Sabine gods, or the 
Muses, 176, 182 ; presiding over 
renovation, 176 ; the nine gods 
who can thunder, 177 ; foreign 
deities received by the Pcomans, 
177 ; deified mortals, 177. 

Nomads, 14. 

Numa, established forms of wor- 
ship and sacrifice, 76, 335 ; un- 
acquainted with incense, 335 ; ad- 
vised by Egeria how to learn the 
way to draw Jupiter to earth, 223; 
overreached Jupiter by his readi- 
ness, 223, 226. 
Numa Pompilius, name of Apollo 

not found in the rituals of, 143. 
Numenius, 74. 
Numicius, frequented by the in- 

digetes, 27. 
Nysius, Liber, 252. 

Ocbisia, brought as a captive from 

Corniculum, 241 ; mother of Ser- 

vius, 242. 
(Eta, the Phoenician Hercules burned 

on mount, 27, 208. 
Olive, Minerva the discoverer of 

the, 172. 
Olus, Capitol named from, 279. 

Olympian Jupiter, 290. 

Omens derived from points of spears, 

137 ; from the entrails of victims, 

139, 194; no longer observed in 

public business, 137. 
Omophagia, i.e. Bacchanalia, 242. 
Onion, thunder - portents averted 

with an, 224, 226. 
Ops, sprung from Ccelus and Hecate, 

141 ; mother of Jupiter and his 

brothers, 27, 139, 141, 171, 202. 
Orbona, guardian deity of bereaved 

parents, 190. 
Orcus, union of Proserpine with, 

Origin of things, Christ commanded 

men not to inquire into, 129. 
Ornytus, Pallas slain by, 208. 
Orpheus, the Thracian bard, 242 ; 

the Thracian soothsayer, 250. 
Osiris, husband of Isis, torn limb 

from limb, 27. 
Ossilago, a deity giving firmness to 

the bones of children, 190. 
Ossipagina, a name given to Juno, 


Pales, guardian of the flocks and 

herds, 166 ; not a female, but a 

male steward of Jupiter, 178 ; one 

of the Penates, 178, 181. 
Palladium, the, formed from the re- 
mains of Pelops, 207. 
Pallas, father of the fifth Minerva, 

and slain by her, 197, 198. 
Pallas, surname of Minerva, 1 98 ; 

overcome and slain by Ornytus, 

Pamphilus, a magian and friend of 

Cyrus, 43. 
Pancetius, a Stoic philosopher, 72. 
Panchsean gums burned to the gods, 

Panda, origin of the name, 186. 
Pansa, consulship of, 232. 
Pantarces, a name inscribed on the 

finger of the statue of Olympian 

Jupiter, 2S7. 
Pantica, i.e. Panda, 186. 
Paphos, Cinyras king of, 278. 
Parthians, Christianity attested by 

mighty works amongst the, 76. 
Patella, goddess of things to be 

brought to light, 190. 
Patellana, goddess of things already 

brought to light, 190. 
Patrimus, place in the ceremonies of 

the boy called, 213. 
Pausi, 21. 



Peace deified, 185. 

Peleus, father of Achilles, loved by 
Thetis, 209. 

Pellonia, a goddess who repels 
enemies, 186, 187. 

Peloponnese, Apis born in the, 28. 

Pelops, 209 ; the Palladium formed 
from the remains of, 207. 

Penates, said to be Neptune and 
Apollo, 178, 181 ; gods of the re- 
cesses of heaven, 178; said to be 
of four kinds, 178 ; said to be 
Fortune, Ceres, the genius Jovi- 
alis, and Pales, 178, 181 ; and by 
the Etruscans to be the Consentes 
and Complices, 178. 

Perfica, goddess of filthy pleasures, 

Peripatetics, Aristotle the father 
of the, 72. 

Persians, the, overcome because of 
the Christians, 14 ; Christianity 
attested by mighty works among, 
70; worshipped rivers, 283; skilled 
in secret arts, 195. 

Pertunda, a goddess presiding over 
the marriage couch, 189. 

Pessinuntic Dindymene, 217. 

Pessinus, people of, worshipped a 
flint for the mother of the gods, 
283 ; Great Mother brought from, 
361 ; Midas king of, 229. 

Pestilence, sent to punish pollution 
of the circus, 350 ; abated when 
deities were brought from abroad, 
351 ; put to flight by iEsculapius, 

Peta, presiding over prayers, 190. 

Peter's victory over Simon Magus, 77. 

Phaethon, the sun the father of, 266; 
loved by Ceres, 209. 

Phalli displayed in honour of Bac 


given in the mysteries 

of Venus, 242. 
Phidias, sculptor of the image of 

Olympian Jupiter, 286 ; carved on 

it the name of a boy loved by him, 

Philopator, i.e. Ptolemy iv., 278. 
Philosophers, pride of, 117; by their 

disagreement show that nothing 

can be known, 74. 
Phoenician Hercules, 27. 
Phoroneus, the first builder of 

temples, 274. 
Phorbas, Attis found and brought 

up by, 229. 
Phrygia, the rock Agdus in, 227 ; 

mysteries celebrated in, 242. 

Phrygian mother, the, i.e. Cybele, 

Phrygians, the, overcome with fear 
at the sight of the Great Mother 
and Acdestis, 230; Christianity 
attested by mighty works among, 
76 ; call their goats attagi, 229. 

Phryne, native of Thespia, used as 
model for the statues of Venus, 

Picus, son of Saturn, and father of 
Faunus, 141 ; drugged and made 
prisoner by Numa, 223 ; surnamed 
Martius, 223. 

Piety, altars and temples built to, 
184, 185. 

Pindar, the Boeotian, 206. 

Pine, Attis self -mutilated under a, 
230; borne to her cave by the 
Great Mother, 231; carried into 
the sanctuary of the Great Mother 
on certain days, 239, 262; wreathed 
with flowers, 230, 240; bound 
with wool, 239. 

Pipe, a (tibia), borne by Acdestis 
when he burst in upon the Phry- 
gians, 230. 

Piso, consulship of, 142. 

Plank, a, worshipped by the Samians 
for Juno, 283. 

Plato, head of philosophers, 1 1 ; the 
disciple of Socrates, 72 ; the di- 
vine, has many thoughts worthy 
of God, 103. 

Plato's doctrine of reminiscence 
criticised, 90; bodiless forms, i.e. 
ideas, 72. 

Plutarch of Cha;ronea, 208. 

Pluto, brother of Jupiter and Nep- 
tune, 172; king of the shades, 

Plutonian realms, i.e. infernal re- 
gions, 327. 

Polias, Erichthonius buried in the 
sanctuary of, 277. 

Pollux, son of Tyndareus, distin- 
guished as a boxer, 27 ; buried in 
Sparta, 208. 

Pomegranate tree, a, springs from 
the severed members of Acdestis, 

Pomona, a name given to Juno, 171. 

Pompilius, the revered, 161 ; sacri- 
fices thoroughly cooked and con- 
sumed in time of, 138. 

Pontifex Maximus, 42, 216, 354. 

Populonia, a name given to Juno, 

Portents, thunder, how averted, 223. 



Portunus, gives safety to sailors, 

Potua, presiding over drinking, 168. 

Prsestana, named because Romulus 
excelled all with the javelin, 186. 

Praxiteles, in the Cnidian Venus, 
copied the courtezan Gratina, 286. 

Prayers for the dead, and for all 
men, 218. 

Priapus, the Hellespontian god of 
lust, 157 ; represented with im- 
mense pudenda, 301. 

Proserpine, daughter of Ceres and 
Jupiter, 244 ; violated by her 
father, 244; carried off by Pluto 
from Sicily, 248, 27 ; called Libera, 
244 ; named because plants rise 
slowly, 173; lusted after by the 
first Mercury, 196 ; loved Adonis, 
209 ; allegorical explanation of the 
rape of, 256, 257, 261 ; barren 
heifers sacrificed to, 329, 328. 

Prosumnus, a vile lover of Bacchus, 
253 ; the god's compliance with 
his request, 253. 

Protagoras, doubts as to existence 
of a deity, 25. 

Prothce loved by Apollo, 20S. 

Psylli, sellers of charms against ser- 
pents, 99. 

Purification of the mother of the 
gods, 342. 

Puta, a goddess presiding over the 
pruning of trees, 190. 

Pygmalion, king of Cyprus, 297 ; 
an image of Venus loved by, 297. 

Pyriphlegethon, a river in Hades, 

Pyrrha, women formed from stones 
cast by, 227. 

Pythagoras of Samos, 72, 78 ; placed 
the cause of things in numbers, 
72 ; burned to death in a temple, 

Pythian god, the, identified with 
the sun and Bacchus, 173 ; served 
Laomedon, 207 ; soothsayers are 
taught by, 166. 

Quindecemviri, the, wore wreaths 

of laurel, 216. 
Quirinus, excelled all in throwing 

the javelin, 186. 
Quirinus Martius, Romulus torn in 

pieces by the senators, called, 33. 
Quirites, 187. 

Races, guilt contracted if the music 
stopped at the, 213 ; in the games 

of Jupiter, 352 ; seven rounds of 
the course in, 352. 

Regulus, cruel death of, 32 ; a huge 
serpent killed by the army of, 359. 

Religion, credibility of, not depend- 
ent on antiquity, 140, 142; opinion 
constitutes, not ceremony, 348. 

Reminiscence, the Platonic doctrine 
of, 86, 90. 

Renovation, the Novensiles gods of, 

Rhodes, the fourth Sun born at, 

Right and left merely relative terms, 
187, 188. 

Rites of the mother of the gods, 
239, 240 ; of Bona Dea, 241 ; of 
Bacchus, Cyprian Venus, and the 
Corybantes, 242 ; of Ceres in 
Phrygia, 242, 243. 

Rituals of Numa, Apollo's name not 
found in, 143. 

Rivers, worshipped in ancient times 
by the Persians, 283. 

Roman matrons, not allowed to drink 
wine, 138 ; kissed to test their 
sobriety, 138. 

Romans, the race of Mars, the im- 
perial people, 217 ; had changed 
their customs and ceremonies, 
137 ; Pellonia goddess only of, 
187 ; worshipped a spear for Mars, 

Rome, age in time of Arnobius of 
the city, 141 ; Christianity at- 
tested by miracles in, 76, 77. 

Romulus, founder of Rome, 161 ; 
sacrifices consumed in time of, 
138 ; and his brother, 186 ; a dei- 
fied mortal, 177 ; torn in pieces 
by the senators, 33 ; unacquainted 
with incense, 335 ; called Quirinus 
Martius, 33. 

Sabixe gods, the Novensiles, nine, 

Sabre, worshipped by the Scythians, 

Sacrifices, Christians offered no, 
273 ; Varro's denial of any occa- 
sion for, 308 ; cannot feed gods, 
309 ; cannot give pleasure to the 
gods, 310, 311 ; can neither pre- 
vent their anger, 312 ; nor satisfy 
their rage, 313 ; no reason can be 
found for, 329; purity and clean- 
liness required at, 323. 

Sadducees, attributing form to God, 



Salt-cellars, tables consecrated by- 
placing, 137. 
Safety, temples and altars erected 

to, 184. 
Sais, the Egyptian, offspring of the 
Nile, 196, 199; identified with the 
second Minerva, 19C. 

Samians, the, worshipped a plank 
for Juno, 283. 

Samothracii Digiti, named Idcei 
Dactyli, 179; said to be the Lares, 
179, 181. 

Sangarius, a king or river, father of 
Nana, 228 ; attempted to starve 
his daughter to death, 22S ; ex- 
posed her child, 229. 

Sardis, Hercules a slave at, 207. 

Satirical poems punished by law, 

Saturn, son of Coelus and Hecate, 
141 ; overthrew his father, 210 ; 
attempted to destroy his children, 
210 ; was driven from power by 
Jupiter, 206, 210 ; hid himself in 
Latium, 206 ; was thrown into 
chains for parricide, 206 ; father 
by Ops of Jupiter, 139, 141, 171, 
202 ; of the third Jupiter, 196 ; 
mother of the gods married to, 
172 ; founder of the Saturnian 
state, 27 ; father of the third 
Minerva, 196 ; when aged, taken 
in adultery by his wife, 208 ; 
tomb and remains of, in Sicily, 
208 ; identified with Kronos, and 
explained as chronos, 170 ; pro- 
genitor of the dil marjni, 171 ; 
planter of the vine, 171 ; bearer 
of the pruning-knife, 171, 2S4, 
300 ; presides over sown crops, 
192 ; before Hercules' visit to 
Italy, human sacrifices offered to, 

Saturnian king, the, i.e. Jupiter, 

Satvr, Jupiter assumed the form of, 
209, 267. 

Scauri, 54. 

Scythian king and Circe, the fifth 
Sun the son of a, 196. 

Scythians, irruptions of the, laid to 
the charge of the Christians, 8 ; 
sacrificed asses to Mars, 207. 

Sebadia, 244. 

Semele, mother of Liber by Jupiter, 

140, 202, 173, 


Senators, Romulus torn in pieces 
by, 33 ; abuse of, punished by 
law, 216. 

Serapis, Apis in Egypt called, 28 ; 
the Egyptian, 211 ; introduction 
of the worship of, 142 ; temple of, 
burned to ashes, 298. 

Seres, the, 276 ; Christianity at- 
tested by miracles among, 76. 

Serpent, Jupiter assumed the form 
of a, 209, 244. 

Serpent-bites, charms against, 99. 

Servius Tullus, birth of, 242. 

Shrine of Juno at Argos, 298. 

Shrines, the Christians built no, 273. 

Sibyl, the, 51. 

Sicily, tomb and remains of Saturn 
in, 208 ; Proserpine carried off 
from, 24S. 

Sickle, borne by Saturn, 2S4. 

Simon Magus, fiery car of, 77 ; over- 
throw and death of, 77. 

Sinister deities, presiding over the 
left, 187, 18S. 

Sleep, what produces, 70. 

Slumber, is life anything but, 70. 

Sminthian mice. Apollo the destroyer 
of, 173. 

Socrates, condemnation of, spoken 
of as the Trojan war, 202 ; not 
made infamous by his condemna- 
tion, 32; Plato the disciple of, 72. 

Solecisms and barbarisms objected 
to Christianity, 4S. 

Sophists, pretentious show of the, 

Soul, nature, origin, and condition 
of the, taught by Christ, 30 ; in 
an intermediate state, 80, 101, 
98, 120 ; immortal, and holding 
the fourth place in the universe, 
91, SI ; corporeal and mortal, 93 ; 
may become immortal through 
Christ, 100 ; death is the ruin of 
the, 100 ; does not come into this 
world divinely taught, S6, SI ; 
cast into rivers of fire, SO ; should 
flee from earth, according to 
Plato, 78 ; not begotten by God, 
112; man's, not formed from the 
same pure mixture as the world's, 
120; cast into fire by fiercely 
cruel beings, SI. 

Souls said to pass into cattle, S3. 

Spain, 14 ; Hercules buried in, 27. 

Sparta and Lacedrcmon, Castor and 
Pollux buried in, 20S. 

Spartanus, Mars identified with, 

Spear, a, worshipped by the Romans 
for Mars, 2S3. 

Stage, gods brought on, 216, 217. 



States, genii of, 21. 

Stentors, 145. 

Sterope, loved by Apollo, 208. 

Stoic theory, of the world, 124; that 

souls survived death for a little, 

Stone, the Arabians worshipped an 

unhewn, 283. 
Stones, after the deluge men sprung 

from, 227 ; anointed with oil, and 

Worshipped, 31. 
Stone, a, sent from Phrygia as the 

Great Mother, 362. 
Stygian Jupiter, i.e. Pluto, 139. 
Styx, a river in the infernal regions, 

80,' 253. 
Sulla, the proscription of, spoken of 

as the battle of Cannse, 262. 
Summanus, i.e. Pluto, 182, 261. 
Sumptuary laws, not observed in 

time of Arnobius, 137. 
Supreme Jupiter, the, in opposition 

to the Stygian, 139. 
Sun, the, all things vivified by the 

heat of, 5 ; said to be only a foot 

in breadth, 130 ; identified with 

Bacchus and Apollo, 173 ; and 

with Attis, 265 ; five gods said 

to be, 196 ; represented with rays 

of light, 285 ; father of Phaethon, 

Swan, Jupiter changed into a, 205, 

Syria, plagued with locusts because 

of the Christians, 14. 

Tages, the Etruscan, 139. 
Tanaquil and the dii conserentes, 241. 
Tarpeian rock, the, taken by Titus 

Tatius, 186. 
Tartarus, the darkness of, has no 

terrors to the immortal, 96; visited 

by Liber, 252. 
Tellene perplexities, proverbial 

phrase, 252. 
Tellus, mother of the Muses, 175. 

See also under Earth. 
Telmessus, city in Asia Minor, 278. 
Telmessus, the prophet buried under 

Apollo's altar, 278. 
Temples, in many cases tombs, 277, 

278 ; destroyed with their images, 

and plundered, 298 ; built to cats, 

beetles, and heifers, 21 : built 

that men might come near and 

invoke the gods, 275 ; not raised 

by the Christians, 273. 
Thales, attributed all things to 

water, 72. 

Theatres, the gods exposed to insult 
and mockery in the, 217, 218. 

Theban Hercules, the, 27, 204. 

Themis, the oracle of, 227. 

Theodoras of Cyrene, 211. 

Thesmophoria, origin of the, 247. 

Thespia, Phryne a native of, 286. 

Thespians, the, worshipped a branch 
for Juno, 283. 

Thessaly, home of the Myrmidons, 

Thestius' fifty daughters, and Her- 
cules 209. 

Thetis, 'loved Peleus, 209. 

Theutis, the Egyptian, founder of 
astrology, 139. 

Thieves, Laverna the goddess of, 

Thrace, Mars born in, 207. 

Toracian, the, bard, i.e. Orpheus, 
242 ; soothsayer, son of Calliope, 

Thrasimene lake, Roman defeat at 
the, 187. 

Thunderer, the, i.e. Jupiter, 298. 

Thunder, evil portented by, how 
averted, 223, 224. 

Thyle, remotest, 276. 

Tiber, iEsculapius brought to the 
island in the, 356. 

Tinguitani, the, afflicted with 
droughts because of the Chris- 
tians, 14. 

Titans, the, worshipped by the 
Moors, 27 ; Liber torn in pieces 
by, 32, 242. 

Tithonus, loved by Aurora, 209. 

Titus Tatius, the Capitoline taken 
by, 186. 

Tolus Vulcentanus, Capitol named 
from, 278. ^ 

Transmigration of souls, 83. 
Treason to speak evil of kings, 

Trebia, Novensiles worshipped at, 

Trebian gods, i.e. the Novensiles, 

Trebonius, cruelly put to death, 32. 
Tree wreathed with flowers in 

memory of Attis, 230. 
Triptolemus, deitied because he in- 
vented the plough, 29 ; native of 
Attica, first to yoke oxen, 248. 
Tritonian maid, the, 165, 330. 
Trojan wars, the condemnation of 

Socrates spoken of as the, 262. 
Trophonius, the second Mercury, 
26, 196. 

2 B 



Tullius (M. Cicero), 262 ; the most 
eloquent of the Romans, 154. 

Tullius (Servius), king, half-raw 
sacrifices offered under, 138. 

Tutelary demons, the Lares, 180. 

Tutunus, 189, 193. 

Tyndareus, father of Castor and 
Pollux, 27. 

Tyndarian brothers, the, 139. 

Unxia, presiding over anointing, 

Upibilia, keeps from wandering, 190. 

Varro, distinguished by the di- 
versity of his learning, 232; denies 
that sacrifices are acceptable to 
the gods, 307. 

Velus, a magian, 43. 
Venus, the Cytherean, sprung from 
the sea-foam and the genitals of 
Ccelus, 206 ; daughter of Dione, 
27 ; lusted after Anchises, 27, 
209 ; a courtezan, 207, 211 ; dei- 
fied by Cinyras, 207 ; mother of 
the Desires, 168 ; of the imperial 
people, 217 ; wounded by a mor- 
tal, 207 ; represented on the stage 
by lustful gestures, 217; in statues 
and paintings nude, 285, 301 ; used 
to denote lust, 268 ; allegorical 
explanation of the binding of, 265, 
266 ; named because love comes 
to all, 173; four goddesses named, 
137 ; Cinyras buried in the temple 
of, 278; the courtezan Gratina the 
model of the Cnidian, 286; Phryne 
of more than one, 286; Pygmalion's 
love for the Cyprian, 297; a youth's 
love for the Cnidian, 297 ; mys- 
teries of Cyprian, 242. 

Venus Militaris, presiding over the 
debauchery of camps, 189. 

Vesta, the earth said to be, 172 ; 
ever-burning fire of, 137. 

Vestals, guarding the sacred fire, 

Vermilion, the images of the gods 
smeared with, 282. 

Verrii, 54. 

Victa, presiding over eating, 16S. 

Victims, Christians slew no, 273. 

Victory, Minerva the daughter of, 

Vigils in the Thesmophoria, 247. 

Vintage festival of /Esculapius, 342. 

Violets, sprung from blood of Attis, 

Virtue, altars and temples reared to, 

Virginalis, Fortuna, 138. 

Vulcan, explained as fire, 173; lame, 
206 ; wrought as a smith in Lem- 
nos, 196, 206 ; son of the Nile, 
196 ; loved by Ceres, 209 ; father 
of the third Sun, 196 ; and of 
Apollo, by the first Minerva, 196; 
four gods named, 197 ; lord of 
fire, 139, 166, 164 ; represented 
in workman's dress, 301 ; with 
cap and hammer, 285. 

Vulturnus, the father-in-law of 
Janus, 170. 

Wheat, introduced into Attica by 
Ceres, 212. 

Will, free, in salvation, 133. 

Wicked, souls of, pass into beasts, 83. 

World, the, uncreated and ever- 
lastiug, 124 ; created, but ever- 
lasting, 124 ; created and perish- 
able, 124; theories of, 25, 73, 125; 
destruction by fire of, 72. 

Worship, true, in the heart, 212. 

Winds, the, represented as blowing 
trumpets, 282. 

Within, the Penates said to be 
those, 178. 

Wine, in the rites of Bona Dea, 241 ; 
sanctuary of Attis not entered 
by those who had drunk, 229 ; 
Eoman matrons not allowed to 
drink, 138. 

Xerxes, the bridge and canal made 
by, 9. 

Zexo, the Stoic, 72; of Myndus, 

Zeuxippe, loved by Apollo, 208. 

Zoroaster, Bactrians led against the 
Assyrians by, 8 ; assigned by tra- 
dition to different countries and 
ages, 43. 

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I. The Cross a Eevealer of the Hearts of Mew. II. The Sufferings and 

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Translated from the French by Edward W. Shalders, B.A. 
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In One large 8vo Volume, price 15s., 

A Treatise on the Grammar of New Testament Greek, 

regarded as the Basis of New Testament Exegesis. By Dr. G. B. Winer, 
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Commentaries on tljt ®ttr antr 

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